Steelers' Diontae Johnson Willing to Play Out Season Without New Contract

Doric SamJune 7, 2022

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 26: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) before an NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs on Dec 26, 2021 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson emerged as one of the AFC's best wideouts last season and earned his first Pro Bowl selection.

Despite entering the 2022 season with just one year left on his contract, Johnson doesn't plan on letting his uncertain future in Pittsburgh affect his play.

"My time will come. I’ll be patient," Johnson responded when asked about a contract extension. "If it comes this year, it will be a blessing. If it doesn’t, I’ll keep working."

Johnson is set to make $2.79 million in the final year of his deal, per Spotrac. The 2022 offseason has seen a number of massive contracts handed out to receivers across the league, and Johnson has taken notice.

When asked if he expects to be paid like one of the NFL's top wideouts, Johnson said: "Most definitely. Film don’t lie. That’s all I’m going to speak on that. I’m just going to keep on playing."

A third-round pick out of Toledo in 2019, Johnson reached his potential in 2021 when he assumed the role of Pittsburgh's No. 1 receiver. He led the team with 107 receptions, 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns, which were all career highs.

But Johnson and the rest of the Steelers face a new reality this year after the retirement of longtime starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh signed veteran signal-caller Mitchell Trubisky and drafted Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett with the No. 20 pick, but it will be hard for either to replicate Roethlisberger's consistent production.

While Trubisky is the presumptive starter, Pickett will have the chance to prove himself in training camp and potentially create a quarterback competition. Developing chemistry with Johnson and the rest of Pittsburgh's weapons will be key to determining who will be under center in Week 1.