Steelers Would Part With Pro Bowler in ‘Blockbuster’ Trade Proposal

Mike Tomlin

Getty The Steelers could pursue a trade involving WR Diontae Johnson.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could be looking at a potential “blockbuster” trade scenario.

In a list of “blockbuster” trade ideas compiled by Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton, one of the possible scenarios would see the Steelers trading star wide receiver Diontae Johnson to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for a 2023 second-round draft pick.

Moton argued that Johnson’s desire for a new contract combined with the Steelers’ receiver depth could lead to a trade to a receiver-needy team such as the Packers.

“Pittsburgh has a deep wide receiver group with Chase Claypool, rookie second-rounder George Pickens and rookie fourth-rounder Calvin Austin III,” Moton wrote in the July 25 piece. “The front office may be willing to deal Johnson for the right price, and if that’s the case, Green Bay should be on the line with a strong proposal.

“Johnson has improved his receiving numbers every year, but he’s not a big-play star wideout, averaging 10.9 yards per catch for his career. The Packers may be able to acquire him with a second-rounder.”

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Report: Johnson Wants to Remain With Steelers

While Johnson hasn’t publicly held out, it’s no secret he wants to be paid. The 26-year-old is on the verge of entering the last year of his rookie contract with the Steelers, a deal that will pay him just $3 million for the upcoming season. That cap hit ranks Johnson 63rd among all receivers for the upcoming season.

Based upon a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler back in April, Johnson wants to stay with the Steelers.

“My understanding is that Diontae Johnson wants to be in Pittsburgh long-term,” Fowler tweeted. “I think he’s prepared to play it out…I think he sees himself as having a chance in year four to be a top guy.”

However, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly — who initially reported Johnson’s displeasure with the Steelers back in May — said he didn’t believe the Steelers would shell out big money for Johnson.

“They aren’t offering him anything near [Terry] McLaurin or anybody else that got more than $20 million per year,” Kaboly wrote on July 5. “They will offer him something, and it won’t be what he thinks he can get on the market, and he will get paid next year somewhere else. That’s the way I see it working out now.”

Why Steelers May Trade Johnson in 2022

The Steelers are coming off a draft in which they spent two picks on receivers — George Pickens and Calvin Austin III — who could step in and make an impact. In Pickens, they have a big-framed receiver at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds capable of becoming a red zone threat and go-to receiver. In Austin, they have a small-framed receiver who could develop into a worthy slot weapon with his 4.32 40-yard-dash speed. It’s also worth noting Austin turned in back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons while at the University of Memphis.

The Steelers are well-known for producing star receivers. In the past decade alone, they’ve developed Pro Bowl receivers in Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Juju Smith-Schuster and more recently, Johnson. In other words, Pittsburgh would likely develop a receiver — whether it’s Pickens or Austin — to fill Johnson’s void. They’ve allowed three star receivers to walk in recent years and they’ve done an adequate job replacing them.

If the Steelers aren’t willing to pay Johnson as an elite receiver, the most logical scenario sees Pittsburgh trading Johnson before his contract is up. The Packers are desperate for a star receiver following Davante Adams’ departure. With Aaron Rodgers potentially staring down his final season in Green Bay, the Packers could acquire that star wideout (Johnson) for a second-round pick.

We’ll see how contract talks pan out between the Steelers and their star receiver, but Johnson could be looking at his final days in Pittsburgh.

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Paula McCabe
Paula McCabe
15 days ago

Pro Bowl, #6 in receptions, #10 in yds, better every year. The rookies haven’t played yet. Seems like they’re overloaded with good receivers and won’t be able to keep them all. Maybe they had foreseen Johnson’s contract dilemma when they drafted Pickens? If they all stay, whoever is QB should have lots of open targets!

Matthew Matt
Matthew Matt
15 days ago

Dionte Johnson is NO-WHERE near a Star,..What a ridiculous assertion

Tomás Benzo
Tomás Benzo
16 days ago

Wouldn’t happen. Steelers have no incentive to give up their top wr for not a 1st rounder.

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