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Diontae Johnson Wants to ‘Retire a Steeler’ after Contract Extension

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Diontae Johnson Steelers Camp

UNITY TWP., Pa — Diontae Johnson came into Steelers training camp knowing his plan. He was going to hold in until he got the number he wanted. Johnson was itching to get back onto the field, but make no mistake, he was willing to protect himself until the contract he wanted came along. Luckily for Johnson and the Steelers, that contract came on Thursday.

The Steelers and Johnson agreed to a 2-year, $36.71 million contract on Thursday that will Johnson in Pittsburgh through the 2024 season. It was a deal that Johnson prayed upon and ultimately decided that the deal was good enough for him. He was more than happy to sign the dotted line.

“It was a relief for me to finally get it done,” Johnson said. “Just to get back out there with my brothers was a blessing. I’m happy… going through the whole process, I didn’t know what to expect. But it’s really how you go about it. It’s how you can carry yourself. You can’t take stuff personally. It’s all business at the end of the day.”

The deal is somewhat weird compared to Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin, and DK Metcalf. It is only a 2-year deal, and that was by design. Johnson wanted to hit the table earlier than he would have otherwise. The two-year deal allows him to do that and opt for a second contract earlier.

“It’s so I can keep playing here, but come back to the table soon,” Johnson said. “You see the numbers. But I was not trying to look at anybody’s pockets. They deserve that at the end of the day. I can’t control what they got going on so I’m just focusing on controlling what I got going on. I was able to come out with something I liked. I’m happy we were able to come to the table and get it done.”

Diontae Johnson’s Motivation to Sign Now

Johnson did not have to sign for a number that is likely below his market value. While he was clearly focused on himself and not the market, that market did dictate some things. Still, there were other outside motivations that made Johnson decide to take somewhat of a hometown discount.

One of those was that he loved being with his teammates. However, Johnson also just enjoys being a Steeler. He bucks a trend where the Steelers would not sign most of their wide receivers to long-term contracts. With Omar Khan and Johnson coming to an agreement, it keeps both parties happy.

“The grass is not always greener on the other side,” Johnson said. “Listen, I want to retire here. I was thinking about that, too. I love being a Steeler. Really, I love it here. Just being around my teammates and the atmosphere, the energy that they show every day. You want to be around a group of guys like that every day. I want to continue to be here for a long time.”

That is the crux of the decision. Johnson loves the situation he is in, even if he could have received a more lucrative deal on the open market. Now, Johnson is looking to put things together on the field. He is now working with Mitch Trubisky and the other quarterbacks to build quick chemistry.

“I just felt like the time was right,” Johnson said. “It’s great to be back. I’ll work with those guys after practice to make sure we get that timing down.”

Johnson’s lengthy process to this point involved talks with his family, agent, and everyone else around him that he trusted. It was not an easy decision, but with the Steelers feeling comfortable enough to give Johnson a lucrative number, he felt it was time to make the decision to sign the contract.

“I talked to my agent a little bit, my dad, teammates that went through the process,” Johnson said. “It was really about how long it took them to make the decision that they wanted to get on their contract. I felt it in my gut that it was right for my family and me. I’m happy with the deal. It’s time to get back to work.”

Now, Johnson will work on establishing the rapport between him and his quarterbacks. Of course, Johnson lit up the defensive backs in his first practice back. If that is any sign of things to come, it seems that Johnson will be more than fine coming out of a week and a half hold-in.

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