The Pittsburgh Steelers have reportedly started contract discussions with receiver Diontae Johnson, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Pro Bowler is seeking an extension as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract. Johnson has a $3.1 million cap hit in 2022, which ranks 63rd in the NFL at receiver, per Spotrac.
Pittsburgh is looking to retain the wideout, but Dulac noted that the contract talks "doesn't mean they will sign him before season."
Johnson has indicated he is willing to hit free agency if he doesn't land an extension with the Steelers.
"My time will come. I’ll be patient," he said in June. "If it comes this year, it will be a blessing. If it doesn’t, I’ll keep working."
He also added he expects to be paid like one of the top wideouts in football.
"Most definitely. Film don’t lie," Johnson said. "That’s all I’m going to speak on that. I’m just going to keep on playing."
The 26-year-old tallied 107 receptions last season, fifth-most in the NFL, while adding 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns. A third-round draft pick in 2019, Johnson's 254 career receptions are easily the most from his class.
Despite his production, Johnson has seen others drafted in 2019 get new deals this offseason, including A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and most recently Deebo Samuel. Each of these players are averaging over $20 million per year on their new contracts, while 14 receivers in the NFL make at least this on average, per Spotrac.
Mark Kaboly of The Athletic predicted the Steelers won't offer near the $20 million average to Johnson and that the receiver will become a free agent next offseason.