Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson spoke with the media Thursday after practice in a press conference following the news that he had agreed to a two-year contract extension to keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2024 season.
When asked about his new contract extension and why he decided to take the deal offered to him now instead of waiting to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023, Diontae Johnson suggested that he put blinders on to what was happening on the outside when it came time to getting a deal done with Pittsburgh.
“No, I don’t want to look now trying to look at ‘You see the numbers’, but I wasn’t trying to look at everybody’s pockets or whatnot,” Johnson said on video from Steelers Live’s Twitter page. “Because they deserve at the end of the day, I can’t control what they got going on. So, I’m just worried about what I got going on and was able to come up with something. Like I said, I’m happy that I was able to come to the table and get something done. And I’m looking forward to getting to work.”
When reports surfaced that Johnson agreed on a two-year, $36.71 million extension according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, many thought that the length of the contract as well as the average yearly value were both lower than expected. Over the course of the offseason, the WR position exploded in terms of value out on the open market, seeing multiple players sign for $20+ million per season. Johnson was figured to be in the mix for a contract of similar value, thus having the average yearly value come in lower than that stuck out once the extension was announced.
Still, Johnson indicates that he wasn’t trying to pay attention to what everyone was getting and that he was focused on getting a deal done that would be best for him. He reiterated those statements when asked if he cared whether or not receivers from his draft class were possibly making more than him on a per-year basis.
“No, it is what it is,” Johnson continued. “Like I said, I’m happy for what they got. Like I said, I’m not worried about their money. I’m worried about mine and I’m able, like I said, I’m happy that I got something done.”
It’s hard to believe that Johnson wasn’t paying attention to the contracts his peers were signing prior to getting his own extension done on Thursday. Given the fact that he has posted the most receptions of any of the WRs from that 2019 draft class who have signed extensions this offseason, he likely was looking to at least match, if not exceed the average yearly value and total guarantees the others got before him. However, Johnson’s contract extension represents a large pay raise from what he was previously scheduled to make, as well as gives him long-term security rather than going out and playing the 2022 season on the final year of his rookie deal.
Johnson now remains in Pittsburgh for the next three seasons, and will still have the opportunity to cash in 2025. Regardless of whether he got what he was looking for or not, Johnson walks away from the negotiating table with a large bag of money in his pocket as he transitions to the field to help the Steelers compete for a playoff berth this season.