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Diontae Johnson, Steelers agree to 3-year extension

Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson has signed a three-year contract extension, the team announced Thursday. Pittsburgh did not release details of the contract.

Johnson has become the Steelers’ go-to receiver the past couple of seasons. He earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl in the 2021 season with 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns in Ben Roethlisberger’s final season in Pittsburgh.

The 26-year-old wideout started to emerge in his second season with 88 catches for 923 yards and seven TDs in 2020. The 2019 third-round pick has caught 254 passes on 405 targets for 2,764 yards and 20 TDs in his career.

There’s little doubt how much the Steelers leaned on Johnson last season. Via Sports Info Solutions, he ranked second in the league in targets with 171 in 2021. Only the Rams’ Cooper Kupp (192) received more targets.

But Johnson only ranked 59th in reception percentage at 62.6 percent and 52nd in passer rating when targeted at 90.8 among qualified wideouts (102 qualified, 40 targets minimum). And yet he heavily improved on his drops from 2020 (15) to 2021 (seven) on more targets (144 targets in 2020).

Johnson was always going to be the Steelers’ choice if he was willing to accept what the team offered. He wasn’t going to get the long-term deal like the rest of his 2019 draft class so a compromise had to happen. It is a good deal for both sides as Johnson got a nice guarantee and the Steelers aren’t tied to him past the 2024 season.

The extension also shifts the way the Steelers like to construct deals in the past under Kevin Colbert. New general manager Omar Khan showed he’s open to a different way to do things. Johnson joins Hines Ward and Antonio Brown as the only receivers who got multiyear second contracts with the Steelers as wide receivers.

(Photo: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

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