Connect with us

Steelers News

Negative Influence on George Pickens Led to Diontae Johnson Trade



DIontae Johnson George Pickens

Diontae Johnson reportedly wanted out of Pittsburgh, so the Steelers granted his wish by trading him to the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday night. Johnson seemed less and less happy over the years in Pittsburgh. In 2022, he reportedly got into an altercation with the quarterback Mitch Trubisky at halftime of the team’s Week 4 loss to the New York Jets. Last season, Johnson got into it with Minkah Fitzpatrick after a game.

Johnson also wasn’t thrilled with Kenny Pickett being his quarterback. He publicly expressed that he hoped Mason Rudolph would be the starter going forward.

Diontae Johnson is a talented receiver and one of the best route runners in the league, but his antics were wearing thin with the Steelers, and they finally had enough.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stated in his online chat that Johnson’s influence on George Pickens played a big role in the trade. Although, he mentioned that Johnson was leaving Pittsburgh “one way or the other.”

“That was a large part of it, though it seems comical to think someone is about Pickens being badly influenced,” Dulac wrote.

Steelers Now sources confirmed tension between the Steelers and Johnson growing through the 2023 season, and that the Steelers saw a culture problem in their wide receivers room.

Pickens has displayed character issues since his college career at Georgia, so I’m not sure how much of a role Johnson had in Pickens acting like a prima donna at times. The Steelers’ concerns probably were centered more around Johnson’s mental lapses on the field.

Last season, Johnson let a mental lapse and loss of focus become the signature moment of his season when he failed to react to a Jaylen Warren fumble and was fortunate his gaffe did not result in a Cincinnati Bengals defensive touchdown.

Nearly three weeks later against the Indianapolis Colts, Pickens had his own embarrassing play. That controversy came upon Pickens after a lack of effort on a Warren run that could have been a touchdown. Pickens said that he was trying to avoid a “Tank Dell situation,” referring to the Houston Texans wide receiver who broke his leg getting rolled up on near the goal line. He would bash the media, too, and Mike Tomlin would hold a press conference saying he had to be more mature.

The Steelers are hoping that with Johnson gone, some of the bad habits displayed won’t carry over to Pickens any longer.