Saturday, January 14, 2023

‘Bold’ Steelers Trade Proposal Submits Draft For Diontae Johnson

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In one of his first stints as general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Omar Khan did something the GM seldom did before: he signed a wide receiver to an overtime.

Now Khan might doubt it.

Fourth-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson made a fuss over his desire for a contract extension during the offseason by holding out during training camp. Johnson got his wish in July with a two-year extension worth nearly $37 million with a $17.5 million signing bonus and $27 million guaranteed.

Johnson, 26, became just the third wide receiver since free agency began in 1993 to be expanded by the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise (Hines Ward, Antonio Brown) — well, four if you include JuJu Smith-Schuster’s one-year contract amid a counting pandemic.

When Steelers Nation weren’t calling for Johnson to be traded rather than renewed, they have been raising their voices loud and clear following a recent Twitter post.

This push is fueled by an aspiring rookie named Jordan Addison. Addison played with quarterback Kenny Pickett at Pitt before joining USC for his final season. Ditching Johnson and drafting Addison seems like how fans would like to see things unfold this spring.

In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mailbag dated January 10th Joe Starkey, @Markvg31V asked, “Would you call up (Jordan) Addison at 17 despite there being other holes, much like the Bengals did with Chase over Sewell? Then maybe trade DJ for another choice for Day 2? I feel DJ doesn’t want to be number two for Pickens and can be a distraction.”

Starkey agreed.

“I would consider trading Diontae Johnson and drafting Addison. Yes, I would,” Starkey replied.

Starkey pointed out that Johnson wasn’t a distraction — although Steelers fans are fond of portraying him as such — but his production hasn’t achieved what he’s paid to do.

“To be fair, Johnson certainly wasn’t a distraction, and I don’t think he will be. If anything, he was trying too hard to justify his contract. He just wasn’t very dynamic. Its regression is the key point here. I would trust him to hit back strong, but that’s hardly a guarantee.”

Johnson struggled to find the end zone in a record 86 catches. According to Pro Football Reference, he recorded just 882 yards receiving and a career-low 2.7 yards after the catch.

While the thought of a shiny new toy in the form of Jordan Addison sounds nice for Kenny Pickett, a first-round receiver wouldn’t do the Pittsburgh Steelers much good. There must be more pressing needs.

But as we know, Pittsburgh likes the sexy pick and opted to push Najee Harris back with his first overall pick when a top-flight lineman or defenseman was more logical.

Purely hypothetically, if the Steelers was To trade Diontae Johnson for a second-round pick ahead of the 2023 NFL draft, they would have the additional picks to address the garish linemen and defenseman positions that remain two years after Harris’ draft.

In a surprise move ahead of the 2022 NFL trade deadline, Pittsburgh sent Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick. To the Steelers’ delight, this selection resulted in essentially two first-round selections, as the Miami Dolphins lost their top pick.

The Steelers are doing pretty well with three picks in the first two rounds, four in the top 80.

Steelers Nation envisions Addison becoming Pittsburgh’s version of Ja’Marr Chase-Joe Burrow or the AJ Brown-Jalen Hurts, both couples who played collegially.

While Chase and Brown could be huge talents for Addison, there’s no question that he and Kenny Pickett would be fun to watch, especially when combined with the phenomenon George Pickens.

At Pitt, the Pickett-to-Addison connection for the Panthers rushed for 2,259 yards and 21 touchdowns over two seasons.

Fantasy Pros’ Matthew Jones called Addison “one of the most agile and flexible receiver prospects you’ll see” in his Jan. 6 scouting report. Jones believes Addison’s thin stature and lack of an “ideal breakup on Go routes” could put him in the slot, which the Steelers lacked after the Claypool trade.

In a surprise move ahead of the 2022 NFL trade deadline, Pittsburgh sent Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick. To the Steelers’ delight, this selection resulted in essentially two first-round selections, as the Miami Dolphins lost their top pick.



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