Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson seemingly challenged a report Monday about him potentially holding out for a new contract.
Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh reported that Johnson was not present for the start of the Steelers' voluntary offseason program on Monday, adding that Johnson wants to get paid as he prepares to enter the final year of his contract in 2022.
In an apparent response to the report, Johnson tweeted:
Johnson, who was a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft, is set to make $2.79 million this season before potentially hitting the free-agent market next offseason.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that several wide receivers set to become free agents in 2023 do not plan on participating in on-field offseason programs.
Schefter specifically mentioned A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans, Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers and Terry McLaurin of the Washington Commanders, but not Johnson.
Johnson has gotten progressively better over his three NFL seasons and firmly established himself as the Steelers' top wideout in 2021.
After recording 59 receptions for 680 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, followed by 88 catches for 923 yards and seven scores in his second season, Johnson reached a new level in 2021.
Even with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's skills eroding, Johnson managed 107 grabs for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns, which yielded his first career Pro Bowl selection.
With the departure of JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency, Johnson figures to be an even bigger part of the offense in 2022, as he and Chase Claypool will clearly be the top two targets at wide receiver.
Also, while Mitchell Trubisky has yet to prove himself as a long-term answer at starting quarterback, he should have a significantly stronger arm than Roethlisberger did last season, which could help Pittsburgh take advantage of Johnson's speed down the field.
One school of thought is that Johnson should try to get a new deal done as soon as possible, but the 25-year-old could stand to make even more money if he plays out the 2022 season first.
Of course, that could backfire if Johnson gets injured or has a down year, but he is a receiver on the rise who continues to up his level of production each year.
Wide receiver contracts have been exploding this offseason, with Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins, Davante Adams of the Las Vegas Raiders and Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills getting robust, new deals.
It will be tough for Johnson to reach their level of compensation given how productive they have been over a long period of time, but Johnson could perhaps get close with another big season in 2022.