Diontae Johnson trade grade, details: Steelers get CB help in deal with Panthers

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers
Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the offseason needing a cornerback and with wide receiver Diontae Johnson on the trade block. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers eyed the 2024 offseason needing to help quarterback Bryce Young in any way they could after hanging him out to dry in his rookie campaign, including a need to upgrade the pass-catching group.

Thankfully, the two sides appear to have recognized this and came together on Tuesday to make a trade.

Multiple reports confirm that the Steelers are sending Johnson to the Panthers in exchange for cornerback Donte Jackson and with a pick swap included. It's a deal that makes a ton of sense given both teams' needs, but let's take a look at all of the details and figure out who got the better or whom in this trade.

Diontae Johnson trade details for Steelers and Panthers

Here's a look at the full details of the trade, as reported by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero:

DJ DJ trade

Along with Jackson going to Pittsburgh and Johnson now heading to the Panthers, the two organizations also orchestrated a Day 3 pick swap with the Steelers getting an extra sixth-round selection in exchange for their late seventh-round selection.

But let's grade this deal for both teams to see who actually came out on top.

Diontae Johnson trade grade for the Carolina Panthers

This made all the sense in the world for the Panthers. Donte Jackson was entering the final year of his contract in Carolina and, more importantly, cornerback was one of the few areas of the roster where the team could feel confident in going into 2024, particularly after re-signing Troy Hill.

Wide receiver, however, was a black hole on the Panthers roster. Yes, some are high on Jonathan Mingo and Terrace Marshall Jr., but neither did anything to help Bryce Young in the quarterback's rookie season. It was a clear area of upgrade and, with Johnson on the block, it was an easy target for a proven possession receiver with perhaps even more untapped potential. It's a substantial upgrade right away.

In all likelihood, this won't be the last move that we see the Panthers make at wide receiver this offseason. With either the 33rd overall or 39th overall pick by way of the Giants in the Brian Burns trade, Carolina is likely to target the best fit at wide receiver on the board. However, Johnson provides a more proven immediate upgrade at the position and puts Young in a far better position going into year two.

The only thing that sours me even slightly on this deal for the Panthers is moving back in the draft when draft capital is already in short supply for Carolina. Even with that, though, it's still a positive overall move for the franchise.

Panthers Grade: B

Diontae Johnson trade grade for the Pittsburgh Steelers

For the Steelers, this is about as big of a no-brainer move as you're going to find for the team with Johnson. He was also entering the final year of his contract and it seemed as if moving on and continuing to reset the offense in several ways was a prudent move for the organization to explore.

It seemed like the deal would ultimately end up being for something like a third-round pick, though, based on most of the reporting around Johnson and the ongoing trade rumors. Instead, they were able to move and get a player at a position of need in cornerback Donte Jackson -- much less a player who has been solid throughout his career, though unspectacular -- and move up on Day 3 of the draft by more than 60 picks.

Jackson obviously isn't the L'Jarius Sneed trade that the Steelers were hoping for, but this also doesn't entirely preclude them from another big move to fill the depth at the position. For what the market appeared to be for Johnson, this makes all the sense in the world for Pittsburgh and it's a good sign they were able to pull it off.

Steelers Grade: A-

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