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Report: Diontae Johnson Requested Trade Out of Pittsburgh

According to a report, Diontae Johnson requested a trade out of Pittsburgh before he was dealt to Carolina.



Diontae Johnson Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson in a game against the Buffalo Bills on January 15, 2024 -- Ed Thomson / Steelers Now

According to a report by Mark Kaboly of the Athletic, Steelers wide receiver, Diontae Johnson requested a trade out of Pittsburgh before his eventual trade to the Carolina Panthers.

“The Steelers were backed into a corner. Johnson requested a trade entering the final year of his contract, with no extension in sight and a $3 million roster bonus due Friday,” Kaboly noted.

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 significant 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.

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 hope that with Johnson gone, some of the bad habits displayed won’t carry over to Pickens any longer. And Johnson will now get a chance to branch out with the Panthers under new head coach Dave Canales and young quarterback Bryce Young.