Reasons Why Diontae Johnson Wanted to Be Traded By Steelers Revealed - Sport News

Reasons Why Diontae Johnson Wanted to Be Traded By Steelers Revealed

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a part of plenty of surprises during the 2024 NFL offseason.

One of the biggest was their decision to trade Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers for Donte Jackson.

Now the reason why Johnson wanted to be traded has been revealed.

According to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly, Johnson was concerned that the Steelers’ quarterback situation was going to prevent him from putting up the numbers he would need to secure a big contract one his deal with the Steelers was over at the end of the 2024 season.

“Johnson was traded because he was heading into the final year of his contract, he wasn’t going to be re-signed and he felt the Steelers’ quarterback situation wasn’t going to put him in the position to cash out on another contract next year.”

Johnson’s Diminishing Role With the Steelers

Johnson’s time with the Steelers peaked back in 2021.

That season he made 107 catches for 1161 yards and 8 touchdowns on his way to being named to the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster.

Then Ben Roethlisberger retired and Johnson’s numbers have been on the way down ever since.

With Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett throwing him the ball in 2022, Johnson’s numbers dipped to 86 catches for 882 yards and he didn’t catch a touhdown.

This past season, he fell behind George Pickens in the pecking order at receiver and saw his numbers come down even further.

In 2023 Johnson made just 51 catches for 717 yards, but was able to find the end zone again, making 5 touchdown catches.

Even with the Steelers making improvements at quarterback, there was still some concern over whether the numbers would improve in 2024.

Pickens’ spot at the top of the WR depth chart seemed to be pretty secure after his 1140-yard second season and the Steelers could throw the ball even less in 2024.

New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith tends to run the ball a ton, which could limit opportunities for the Steelers’ receivers.

With that uncertainty and an expiring deal, Johnson will now try to get his numbers back up on a new team with a struggling young quarterback of their own.

Taking a Risk With Panthers

If Johnson’s biggest concern was putting up numbers that would help him secure a big contract after the 2024 season, the Panthers might not have been the best fit for him.

The Panthers threw the ball pretty frequently in 2023. They were right around the middle of the league with 586 pass attempts, which was 80 more passes than the Steelers threw in 2023.

Unfortunately, they weren’t very effective with those attempts.

Rookie QB Bryce Young completed just 59.8% of his pass attempts last season for 2877 yards. Both of those numbers were worse than what the Steelers got out of their disappointing group of QBs.

He also threw just 12 touchdowns while being intercepted 11 times.

However, there are reasons for Johnson to be hopeful about his new situation.

The first is that he should be the top target in Carolina. Last year it was Adam Thielen, who will be 34 at the start of the 2024 season.

He had 103 catches for 1014 yards in 2023.

The Panthers have also taken big steps to try and improve Young’s protection for next season.

They gave big contracts to Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis to take over the starting guard spots.

The Panthers will also be hoping for improved play out of Ikem Ekwonu in his third NFL season.

If all of this leads to improvements from Young then Johnson could absolutely put together a season that will earn him a big contact in free agency in 2025. If Young doesn’t get better, it could be a long year for Johnson that is followed by a disappointing offseason.

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