Diontae Johnson on the Move: Steelers and Panthers Strike Trade Deal

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The Steelers have agreed to trade wide receiver Diontae Johnson to the Panthers in exchange for cornerback Donte Jackson and a draft pick swap.

As part of the deal, the Steelers will provide the Panthers with a seventh-round draft pick, along with the wide receiver, while receiving a sixth-round pick alongside the cornerback.

Johnson, who served as the Steelers’ most seasoned wide receiver and longest-tenured offensive player, was drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft. 

With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, he carries a $10 million cap hit for the Panthers, resulting in a $5.8 million dead cap for Pittsburgh.

Although the trade has not been finalized, Johnson bid farewell to Pittsburgh on social media.

Jackson has dedicated his entire career to Carolina since being chosen in the second round of the 2018 draft. 

In 2023, he played in 16 games following an Achilles injury that cut short his 2022 season. 

Jackson, who is also in the final year of his contract, carries a $10.6 million cap hit for the Steelers as well as $9.7 million in dead cap for the Panthers.

Panthers Face Void in Secondary with Jackson Departure

Diontae-Johnson-on-the-Move:-Steelers-and-Panthers-Strike-Trade-Deal
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – JANUARY 06: Diontae Johnson #18 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 06, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Panthers had been considering either trading or releasing Jackson, who has recorded 14 career interceptions, including four during his rookie season, although he did not register any interceptions last season. 

Parting ways with Jackson leaves Carolina in need of a starting cornerback to complement Jaycee Horn. 

However, the addition of Johnson provides quarterback Bryce Young, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, with an extra playmaker as the Panthers seek to improve upon their NFL-worst 2-15 record from last season.

Young’s only returning receivers who made an impact in 2023 were Adam Thielen and rookie Jonathan Mingo. 

Johnson’s Impact: Boosting Panthers’ Receiving Corps

Johnson’s arrival immediately bolsters the receiving corps by offering Young a deep threat that was lacking the previous year, during which the former Alabama standout ranked 32nd in the NFL with an average of 5.5 yards per pass attempt.

In the 2023 season, Johnson amassed five touchdown receptions and 717 receiving yards on 51 catches, a marked improvement from the previous season when he failed to score a single touchdown. 

He earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2021 after achieving his sole 1,000-yard season and recording a career-high eight touchdown receptions during quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final season.

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