Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Diontae Johnson Trade Continues to Look Worse for Pittsburgh Steelers

diontae johnson

When it was reported back in March the Pittsburgh Steelers traded wide receiver Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers, it was a puzzling move. In return, the Steelers received veteran cornerback Donte Jackson and a pick swap (gave up pick 240 for pick 178, which turned into Iowa defensive tackle Logan Lee). By making the trade, Pittsburgh further exacerbated their lack of star power at the wide receiver position. With the season drawing closer, the lack of talent in the Steelers receiver room looms very large.

Diontae Johnson Trade Has Aged Horribly for Pittsburgh Steelers

Initially, there were rumors that Johnson wanted out of Pittsburgh, which helped make some sense of the trade. Johnson’s comments on the trade didn’t back up that idea, though. Mike Tomlin’s comments didn’t support that claim, either. Tomlin simply stated that Jackson is a player the Steelers have liked dating back to his college days, so they took the opportunity to make a player-for-player trade that bolstered their roster. The problem, though, is that the trade made the Steelers roster worse, not better, and they are now dealing with the fallout.

Free Agent Market Has Dried Up

While the Steelers selection of wide receiver Roman Wilson in the third round of the draft was a great pick, he doesn’t help fill the void left by Johnson. Wilson will mostly play in the slot for Pittsburgh, so he won’t be lining up opposite George Pickens very often. However, it is worth noting that Wilson will help replace the “always open” aspect of Johnson’s game. Pickens doesn’t get open consistently; Wilson will do a much better job of that. It will just be coming from the slot, not the boundary.

There were some decent free agent options for the Steelers to bring in as one-year stop-gap type of players. Many of those options are now gone, though. D.J. Chark was an intriguing option who could line up opposite Pickens and be a good deep ball threat for Russell Wilson. He signed with the Los Angeles Chargers, though. Odell Beckham Jr., while nearing the end of his career, showed last year he can be a key piece of a productive offense. However, he signed a one-year prove-it kind of contract with the Miami Dolphins. Michael Gallup was another potential option who is no longer on the market. None of these players would have replaced Diontae Johnson, but they would have helped. Pittsburgh wasn’t able to land any of them.

A Trade Will be Expensive

If Pittsburgh is going to make a splash move, it will have to come via a trade. There are some names potentially on the trade market, like Courtland Sutton, D.K. Metcalf, and Brandon Aiyuk. Acquiring Sutton could especially make sense given his connection with Russell Wilson from their time together with the Denver Broncos. The problem, though, is teams know how desperate Pittsburgh is for a receiver. If they drive a hard bargain, the Steelers will either need to overpay or be stuck with one of the worst wide receiver rooms in the league.

The solution, while not ideal, is pretty straightforward. If the Steelers think they can compete for a Super Bowl this year, they should overpay for a wide receiver if needed. On the flip side, if they feel they are still a year away from truly competing, they should only make a trade for the right price. Of all the options, Sutton seems like a happy medium. He wouldn’t be nearly as expensive to acquire as Metcalf or Aiyuk.

Overall, Omar Khan has been a very impressive general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He hasn’t made many mistakes. But trading away Diontae Johnson and sticking himself between a rock and a hard place has been a big mistake. He will either need to overpay for a big-name receiver or be stuck with a bottom-five collection of wide receivers in the NFL.

Main Image: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports


More Posts

Send Us A Message