Steelers Star WR’s Future ‘Is in Doubt’: Report

Diontae Johnson

Getty's Mark Madden said on February 19 that wide receiver Diontae Johnson's future with the Pittsburgh Steelers "is in doubt."

Speculation has run rampant around the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback situation early this offseason. That extended to wide receiver Diontae Johnson to begin the third week of February.’s Mark Madden said on the February 19 episode of Breakfast with Benz podcast that Johnson has an uncertain future with the Steelers.

“I’ve heard Diontae Johnson’s future is in doubt,” Madden said. “I’ve heard whispers he plans to have a hold-in again, like he did two years ago, because we’re going into the last year of his contract, and he’s going to make noise over Pickett at quarterback.

“I’m not a Diontae fan. I think he’s mediocre, and they pay them way too much. But if you’re gonna get rid of him because he’s not a Pickett guy? I mean, come on.”

The podcast host,’s Tim Benz, added that he had heard the same rumblings about Johnson’s future.

Johnson is entering the final year of his contract at a $15.83 million cap hit in 2024. By “holding-in,” the receiver will be able to express his desire for a new contract while avoiding NFL fines levied for not showing up to offseason workouts.

With one year remaining on his rookie contract two years ago, the Steelers signed Johnson to a 2-year, $36.7 million extension.

Steelers’ Diontae Johnson Supports Mason Rudolph Returning as Starting QB

There are numerous reasons the Steelers could consider parting ways with Johnson. But Madden and Benz implied his lack of support for quarterback Kenny Pickett is why his future is in doubt.

After the team’s playoff exit, Johnson advocated for the Steelers to bring back quarterback Mason Rudolph to start in 2024.

“I hope he gets the job next year, and do what he’s got to do, but he did a great job in my opinion,” Johnson told reporters, via’s All Steelers’ Noah Strackbein.

Johnson, though, may not be the only member of the organization pushing for Rudolph. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac reported on February 17 that the Steelers have “internal division” over whether to start Pickett or Rudolph in 2024.

Dulac added that players are “politicking” for Rudolph, but Dulac didn’t mention which players.

“It would make sense for Rudolph to return, especially after the way he played and how he energized the offense in the final four games,” Dulac wrote. “His teammates like him, several have politicked for him, and another indicated there is enough of a question as to who should be the starter that the coaching staff needs to figure it out in a hurry.”

Johnson Has Uncertain Future in Pittsburgh?

Maybe Johnson’s support of Rudolph is the final straw? There are other reasons, though, that Johnson could be on the outs in Pittsburgh.

The 27-year-old was a lightning rod for controversy in the middle of last season. He crossed the line in complaints about officials after Week 8. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Johnson engaged in a heated locker room argument with teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick after Week 11.

Then in Week 12, he failed to block and turned his back on a fumble.

But Johnson is still a candidate for another contract extension because of his talent and production.

He ended a 20-game touchdown-less streak in Week 9 and then went on a scoring spree to end the season. Including the playoffs, Johnson scored 5 touchdowns in his final seven games.

Johnson finished the 2023 regular season with 51 catches, 717 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in 13 contests. He has posted 391 receptions, 4,363 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns in five seasons.

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