Steelers Urged to Acquire 6-Time Pro Bowl WR as Diontae Johnson Replacement - Sport News

Steelers Urged to Acquire 6-Time Pro Bowl WR as Diontae Johnson Replacement

The Pittsburgh Steelers have turned to a short-term solution in quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason. On March 13, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly proposed the Steelers adding another short-term fix through a trade — wide receiver Keenan Allen.

Steelers trade Diontae Johnson to Carolina for a DB | News, Sports, Jobs -  The Herald Star

Kaboly argued on X (formerly Twitter) that Allen could fill Pittsburgh’s need at wide receiver since the team traded former Pro Bowler Diontae Johnson for cornerback Donte Jackson on March 12.

“Keenan Allen would be a great fit for the Steelers and what they need right now at receiver,” Kaboly wrote. “Big salary and trading for a 32 year old would be a risk but no risk it, no biscuit.”

In his 11-year NFL career, Allen has made six Pro Bowls. All of those Pro Bowl nominations have come since the 2017 season.

Allen has been a picturesque possession receiver, which was the role Johnson played in the Pittsburgh offense. Since 2017, Allen has had six campaigns with at least 97 receptions.

In 2023, he set a new career-high with 108 catches for 1,243 yards and 7 touchdowns.

How WR Keenan Allen Could Fit With the Steelers

Without Johnson on the roster, the Steelers now possess just one receiver who had more than 180 receiving yards last season. That was George Pickens, who led Pittsburgh with 1,140 receiving yards.

Even in an offense that struggled mightily at quarterback for most of the season, Pickens averaged 18.1 yards per reception. The Steelers will be looking for a receiver to play opposite Pickens who can be shifty and quick on underneath routes.

Even in his early 30s, Allen is one of the best possession receivers in the NFL. He hasn’t averaged more than 11.5 yards per catch since 2018, but Allen has registered 96.8 receptions, 1,064 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns per season over the last five years.

Allen is five years older than Johnson, but Johnson has surpassed Allen’s 5-year averages just once in his career.

Allen possesses a short shelf life, but so does Wilson, who turned 35 in November. Wilson is almost seven years older than any other AFC North quarterback.

If the Steelers want to compete in the AFC, they have to add pieces quickly. With Wilson’s age and a 1-year contract, it shouldn’t matter all that much if those pieces are on the older side.

Allen’s Contract & Other Risks With a Potential Trade

On paper, Allen is a terrific possible addition for the Steelers. But there are other risks to acquiring Allen other than his age.

First, Allen is injury prone. He hasn’t played a full season since 2019.

Furthermore, Allen has one year remaining on the 4-year, $80.1 million contract he signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. For the 2024 season, he possesses a $34.7 million cap hit.

In all likelihood, for an Allen trade to the Steelers to be possible, the Chargers would probably have to agree to retain some of his salary.

The Chargers appear interested in trading Allen and some of their other veterans because of their cap situation. So, it’s not clear exactly how willing Los Angeles may be in retaining any salary.

Sports Illustrated Albert Breer reported on March 10 that the Chargers were “listening” to offers for Allen along with fellow receiver Mike Williams. But Breer added that Allen “appears to be least likely to be moved.”

On March 13, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the Chargers released Williams. That could possibly make an Allen trade less likely.

In 11 NFL seasons, Allen has posted 904 catches, 10,530 receiving yards and 59 touchdowns. He’s played his entire career with the Chargers.

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