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Report: Steelers Listening to Trade Offers for WR Diontae Johnson



Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson in a playoff game against the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 15, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers are listening to offers on a potential trade of wide receiver Diontae Johnson, according to a report by Diana Russini of The Athletic.

Johnson, 27, is entering the final season of his contract with the Steelers, and it’s not clear that the team sees him as a long-term fit. In five seasons in Pittsburgh, Johnson has displayed incredible separation skills, but hasn’t always backed that up with a commensurate amount of production.

After a promising rookie year in 2019, Johnson was plagued by drops in 2020, turning 144 targets into just 88 catches and 923 yards. He corrected that issue the following year, posting his best season in Ben Roethlisberger’s final season in 2021, when he caught 107 passes for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns.

With the change at quarterback in 2022, his numbers took another dip, again catching just 86 of 147 passes for 882 yards, and he went the entire season without scoring a touchdowns. Johnson also caused waves in the locker room, allegedly getting into an altercation with quarterback Mitch Trubisky at halftime of a game, after which Trubisky was benched.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson QB Mason Rudolph

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph talks to wide receiver Diontae Johnson during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 23, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

In 2023, it was more of the same, with Johnson arguing with teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick and having to apologize to his teammates after failing to purse a fumble against the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson also dealt with injuries that limited him to 13 gams. That and the further emergence of George Pickens limited him to 87 targets, 51 catches and 717 yards, though he did score five touchdowns.

With the Steelers making a change at offensive coordinator this season to Arthur Smith, it’s not clear how good of a fit Johnson will be for the new offensive scheme. The most-used receivers at Smith’s other stops were big-bodied outside receivers. Johnson, at 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, is certainly not that, and he’s also not an elite blocker at the position.

If the Steelers are going to trade Johnson, they will want to do so quickly. He has a $3 million roster bonus due on March 16 that will become a dead cap hit if traded. If they trade him before then, Johnson will still leave behind a $5.8 million dead cap hit, but will clear $10 million in salary cap space.