The summer of wide receiver contracts continued Thursday with the Pittsburgh Steelers extending fourth-year Dionte Johnson by two years for $36.71 million. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. The deal is worth up to $39.5 million with $27 million guaranteed. Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Johnson, 26, is finishing his first season with 100 receptions for 1,000 yards after catching 107 passes for 1,161 yards for the Steelers in 2021. He has 254 career receptions for 2,764 yards and 20 touchdowns in 47 games.
What’s striking about Johnson’s new contract is how short it is compared to other players who signed big deals this summer.
Other 2019 draft classmates like Terry McLaurin, A.J. Brown, D.C. Metcalfe and Deebo Samuel received higher salaries but longer contracts. So Johnson’s average annual salary over the next two seasons will be $18.355 million, but he will have the option to sign another — and potentially more lucrative — extension after the 2024 season.
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The NFL has already seen a meteoric rise in wide receiver ratings this summer after the Miami Dolphins signed Tyreke Hill for $30 million a year and the Las Vegas Raiders gave Davante Adams a $28 million a year deal, and the price for the top the division should take off when Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase need new contracts for the coming years.
It’s a tempting opportunity for a young pass catcher whose numbers are improving every year he plays in the league. Of course, this season will be Johnson’s first season without Ben Roethlisberger at center, but he will still be playing on offense with a host of playmakers including running back Naji Harris and fellow strikers Chase Claypool and George Pickens.
Johnson is banking on himself as well as the NFL contract structure for his position.