LATROBE, Pa. (AP) — Diontae Johnson’s hold-in paid off.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pro Bowl wide receiver agreed to a three-year deal on Thursday that runs through the 2024 season. The deal will reportedly pay Johnson more than $39 million over the next three years.
Johnson was entering the final season of the rookie deal he signed after being taken in the third round of the 2019 draft. The 26-year-old caught a career-best 107 passes for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for Pittsburgh.
Johnson skipped a portion of the team’s voluntary offseason program and while he arrived at training camp on time, he did not participate in any 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 drills in an effort to protect his health.
Pittsburgh general manager Omar Khan said Tuesday the team wanted to keep Johnson in the fold “for a long time.”
Instead, the Steelers and Johnson came to terms on a deal that offers both a little flexibility. It doesn’t lock Pittsburgh into a long-term situation if Johnson regresses and gives Johnson a chance to really cash in during his prime if he outplays the deal.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had grown tired of being asked about Johnson’s situation in recent days, saying repeatedly he preferred to talk about the players on the field.
Starting Thursday, that group will include Johnson, who must get used to working with a new quarterback after Ben Roethlisberger retired in January. Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett are vying for the chance to be the team’s Week 1 starter, and Johnson acknowledged last week he planned on keeping tabs on how the competition is going.
“You want to pay attention to that because obviously you want to know who’s going to be the guy,” he said. “But all you can do is continue to make plays for them.”
Now that he’s gotten paid, Johnson will finally have that chance.