Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden joined 93.7 The Fan Thursday afternoon to discuss Diontae Johnson’s extension. McFadden joined Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller on the PM Team W/Poni & Mueller show to explain his tweet in reply to Joe Rutter, a Trib-Live reporter. The hosts asked him why the former Steeler had called it a beyond team friendly deal.
“The last few wide receiver deals we have seen have been groundbreaking,” McFadden shared. “It’s been a resetting of the wide receiver market. The twenty-seven million in guaranteed money ranks 27th among all wide receivers. His average salary makes Johnson the 17th highest paid receiver. There are not 16 wide receivers who are that deserving of being paid more than Diontae in my opinion.”
Johnson has been a lightning rod for criticism from fans and media during the offseason. He was due to make less than $3 million in 2022 prior to his extension. It’s possible that the team let the wide receiver and his agent know that they planned to use the franchise tag and utilize a short-term. Fillipponi asked why he thought that the Steelers WR1 accepted this deal:
“I think he took it, because it is only a two-year extension,” the cornerback turned CBS reporter said. “He has an opportunity to get right back to the table. It is still his prime years. I think he just finally came to terms that the Steelers were not going to give him what he could get based on what his peers were able to get.”
The Steelers in the salary cap era have only rewarded two wide receivers with second contracts and both are Pittsburgh Steelers legends. The all-time team leader in receptions, Hines Ward, and the enigmatic Antonio Brown, who was arguably the best wide receiver in football during his prime. Pittsburgh has always done business a certain way and they rarely let a productive player leave the roster in free agency. Johnson plays the one position that they have occasionally let escape:
“Let’s keep it real. All of us who are tied to the Steelers, fans or participants or whatever. No one thought the Steelers would pay Diontae the type of money that we saw with Deebo (Samuel) or some of the other guys that made those record-breaking type deals,” McFadden said. “I think he thought he would get something similar. This was about Diontae lowering his demands to get this deal done, and the Steelers were able to sweeten this deal by only giving him a 2 year extension instead of three or four.”
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McFadden who won two Super Bowl titles with the Steelers and played for the team for six of his seven seasons in the NFL, understands the Steelers will not overpay a player. He left the team for one season to sign with the Arizona Cardinals in 2009. That departure was one year after the Steelers beat them in Super Bowl XLIII. After one season, he returned for the teams last Super Bowl run to date in 2010. The 93.7 hosts asked McFadden why he thought there weren’t 16 wide receivers better than Johnson. The successful podcaster and analyst answered:
“He’s just a smooth route runner. I thought he was the most natural route runner on the Steelers roster. It’s just so easy for him,” McFadden explained. “I understand people talk about the drops and how critical the drops were, but he has more positives than negatives. The best is yet to come for him.”
Johnson’s Pro Bowl talent and his work thus far in his career could have commanded a large payday on the open market. The union and his fellow wide receivers may view his capitulation to the Steelers as an attempted market correction by the NFL and hold some resentment for the fourth-year player. Johnson is betting on himself and his performance with either Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett throwing him the ball. He knows he can perform with Mason Rudolph if he emerges as the winner of the quarterback competition after playing with Rudolph during his rookie season. The deal is a win-win for the player and the organization, the rest of the wide receiver market in the NFL can go kick rocks.
What do you think Steeler Nation? Are you happy to see Diontae Johnson in black and gold for at least two more seasons? Comment below or on [email protected].