UNITY TWP., Pa — Diontae Johnson and the Steelers have experienced the ups and downs of a contract extension talk. For one, the wide receiver market blew up in a way no one saw coming. Then, Johnson’s hold-in has changed how the Steelers’ wide receiver room is working in a rotation.
Still, with Chris Boswell’s extension now done, Johnson can have the full attention turned to him. On Tuesday, Steelers general manager Omar Khan confirmed that talks for an extension between the two sides have started. While the deep details of those discussions are being kept private, the two sides have at least met to start the formal discussion towards a contract.
“You know, conversations we have with Diontae and his representatives are gonna stay between us,” Khan said. “We won’t discuss them publicly, but we’ve been in conversations.”
While the discussions are taking place, Khan made it very well known that Johnson was wanted in the Steelers locker room. The consistent reiterating that the Steelers badly wanted to keep Johnson in the fold is something that did not go unnoticed. It just may be too expensive to do that. Still, if the Steelers can find something, they will make sure to do just that.
“As I say, we want Diontae,” Khan said. “We’re excited to have Diontae as part of this team and we hope he’s gonna be a Steeler for a long time.”
How much of a factor does the hold-in have on the negotiations? The answer is likely not much. While Khan and the Steelers have looked into the possibilities of trying to settle this situation earlier, nothing is concrete just yet. Tomlin and Khan will always want Johnson to be practicing, but in reality, he will not take the field in full pads until either he gets a contract or the regular season comes.
Every one of these situations is different, but obviously, that’s something that’s happened league-wide, right,” Khan said of the hold-in. “It’s happened more this year than last year. And realistically, it’s probably gonna continue to happen league-wide.”
Khan does not intend to fine Johnson or do anything of the sort. In addition, the crazy market that is being developed is concerning, but it is something that Khan simply expects to come with the facts of life as an NFL general manager. If the Steelers expect Johnson to build more chemistry with Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett, the hold-in could become somewhat of a concern.
“Obviously, you want everyone out practicing, but we’ve taken the approach that we’re using it as an opportunity to look at the other guys that are practicing, especially the young guys,” Khan said.
It all comes down to the fact of simple guaranteed money and money per year. Will the Steelers potentially meet the demands of Johnson from a per-year perspective? That is very possible. Will the guaranteed money satisfy him? That is going to be the big hurdle in this equation.