Steelers: Why Diontae Johnson has no leverage

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

Diontae Johnson may covet a new contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he is going to need to garner some leverage first.

There is not a lot wide receiver Diontae Johnson can do heading into the final year of his rookie deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Johnson may be coming off his first Pro Bowl campaign, but the former third-round pick out of Toledo is going to have to wait one more offseason before he gets the bag in NFL free agency. A second Pro Bowl-level season may afford Johnson the opportunity to get franchise tagged or secure a long-term deal ahead of 2023, whether or not that money is coming from the Steelers.

But for now, Johnson has absolutely no leverage in the situation when it comes to making bank.

Diontae Johnson does not have any leverage on the Pittsburgh Steelers just yet

There are several factors that play into Johnson having next to no bargaining power in any potential contract dispute with the Steelers. The first is, quite simply, the organization he plays for. Pittsburgh is about as good as anyone when it comes to scouting, drafting and developing wide receiver talent. The Steelers have also added Chase Claypool and George Pickens since Johnson.

Not only are the Steelers keen at identifying wide receivers that will work in the NFL coming out of college, but more and more quality wideouts are entering the league to begin with. We can thank seven-on-seven culture for that. The other big factor is how many former Pittsburgh wide receivers have gone on to do extraordinary things on the football field since leaving them? I’ll wait.

Even if Johnson’s camp has no leverage at this time, the best thing he can do is ball out in his contract season. If he establishes a great rapport with Kenny Pickett, then one would think Johnson would have to stick with the Steelers long-term, right? While his big pay day is surely coming, Johnson is not poised to get that most crucial second contract until March of next year.

How Johnson plays this upcoming season will determine what his next contract could look like.

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