Steelers Connected to Former All-Pro WR After Diontae Johnson Trade

Diontae Johnson Calvin Ridley

Getty's All Steelers' Noah Strackbein proposed the Pittsburgh Steelers signing former first-round wide receiver Calvin Ridley in NFL free agency.

The Pittsburgh Steelers added starting cornerback Donte Jackson through a trade on March 12. In the process, though, the Steelers created a big hole at wide receiver, giving up veteran Diontae Johnson. In the past four seasons, Johnson recorded 332 catches for 3,683 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.

On March 13,’s All Steelers’ Noah Strackbein proposed the idea of the Steelers replacing Johnson with former first-round pick Calvin Ridley.

“[Ridley] holds no connection to the Steelers but would be the biggest name they could sign on the open market,” wrote Strackbein.

“Ridley, 29, is coming off a 1,000-yard season with eight touchdowns.”

With the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, Ridley had 76 catches and 1,016 receiving yards with those 8 scores. He also had 23 rushing yards.

In 2020, Ridley posted 90 catches for 1,374 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns on his way to second-team All-Pro with the Atlanta Falcons.

How WR Calvin Ridley Could Fit With the Steelers

Without Johnson, the Steelers are searching for a new receiver to pair with third-year wideout George Pickens. Ridley’s speed makes him an interesting potential addition alongside Pickens. Both Ridley and Pickens could be deep threats in Pittsburgh.

Ridley is an excellent route runner as well, making him an intriguing fit. He’s also familiar with the new playbook coming to Pittsburgh.

The 29-year-old worked with Steelers new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who was his head coach with the Falcons in 2021. Bringing in any veteran familiar with Smith’s offense would be a smart move for Pittsburgh.

It’s possible, though, that the Smith-Ridley relationship could prevent the Steelers from being interested in the veteran receiver.

Ridley left the Falcons in Smith’s first season as head coach for personal reasons and then received a season-long gambling-related suspension in 2022. The Falcons traded Ridley to the Jaguars in November 2022.

In Smith’s offense, Ridley also didn’t shine. He had 31 catches for just 281 yards and 2 touchdowns in five games.

Steelers WR Depth After Diontae Johnson Trade

Whether or not the Steelers should sign Ridley is up for debate, but there’s little doubt Pittsburgh needs to add a wide receiver before the NFL draft.

After the Johnson trade, Pickens is the only Steelers wideout signed for the 2024 season who had more than 180 receiving yards last year. Pittsburgh’s No. 2 and 3 receivers in terms of yardage in 2023, Johnson and Allen Robinson, are no longer on the roster.

Robinson, who the Steelers released to save $10 million in cap space, had 280 receiving yards in 2023.

In addition to Ridley, Strackbein suggested veteran wideout Tyler Boyd as a potential addition for the Steelers. A Pittsburgh native, Boyd teased on January 19 that he would like to play for his hometown Steelers.

Over the first 24 hours since the Johnson trade, the Steelers have also been connected to other veteran receivers. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly urged Pittsburgh to consider trading for Los Angeles Chargers wideout Keenan Allen.

The possibility of the Steelers drafting a wide receiver in the first round is much higher since the Johnson trade too. Steelers Depot’s Alex Kozora connected the team to LSU wideout Brian Thomas Jr. immediately after the Johnson trade.

Ridley has posted 324 receptions, 4,358 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns in his 6-year career. He had a 70-catch, 1,000-yard campaign with the Jaguars last year despite missing all of 2022 due to his gambling-related suspension.

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