Are the Steelers destined to lose Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool to free agency?

USA TODAY Sports

In the early years of free agency, the Steelers seemingly had a great outside linebacker every year. In many of those years, the great outside linebacker had to go elsewhere to get paid.

And the Steelers just kept on cranking out great outside linebackers.

In recent years, the Steelers have mastered the art of drafting and developing receivers. This year, James Washington left via free agency. Next year, Diontae Johnson likely will be following Washington.

Mark Kaboly of TheAthletic.com suggests in a mailbag column that the Steelers won’t pay Johnson $20 million per year. This means that they won’t re-sign him. He won’t take $20 million per year, not as the market is moving toward $30 million.

Why should he? The market is what it is. The cap is what it is, and it will keep going up. He needs to get paid while he can, because he has only so many years to get paid.

The Steelers don’t care, because they know they can replace Johnson via the draft. They drafted two more receivers this year, possibly planning for Johnson to leave. And for Chase Claypool, who considers himself to be one of the top three receivers in the league, to be next.

A decade ago, the Steelers made an offer to receiver Mike Wallace. When he didn’t take it, they basically offered the same deal to receiver Antonio Brown. Brown accepted. If the Steelers won’t go north of $20 million per year, neither Johnson nor Claypool will accept — and both will be gone.

Just like the revolving door the Steelers once had at outside linebacker, they’ll be drafting and developing receivers who become good enough to get paid big money elsewhere. And then the Steelers will do it al over again.

50 responses to “Are the Steelers destined to lose Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool to free agency?

  1. No. Plenty of time for Chase to establish himself in the league WR pecking order before his next deal. Diontae will sign before the season starts.

    Sorry …Steelers will deal with this without drama. Diontae will be rewarded for handling this negotiation well.

    Omar Khan is the best in football in cap management.

  2. Most wr are a dime a dozen…it’s the QB that makes the Wr ….not the other way around.

  3. There is a reason the steelers are perennial winners and some teams can’t make it out of the gutter

  4. If I were the Steelers front office I’d be much more focused on Johnson. Clay pool isn’t that good and is very expendable, and easily replaceable in regards to ensuring salary cap integrity

  5. I’m sure they would like to join a new team and have a chance to win a championship

  6. And for Chase Claypool, who considers himself to be one of the top three receivers in the league, to be next:

    MAYBE the funniest sentence I have read in a long time. Dude is average at best.

  7. I’m no Steelers fan, but it is amazing the way they keep coming up with them.

  8. And when was the last time the Steelers vied for a Super Bowl?

    Is it time to dump the current management and find people who are interested in appearing in Super Bowls?

  9. kcoun says:
    July 5, 2022 at 2:09 pm
    I’m no Steelers fan, but it is amazing the way they keep coming up with them.

    ——————–

    Their offense is very dumbed down. It’s also why they haven’t sniffed a title in a decade.

  10. I’m a Ravens fan and as much as I love our rivalry and love to see the Steelers lose talent, I gotta give credit where credit is due. I’d love for our front office to figure out what Pittsburgh has figured out when it comes to drafting receivers. Considering their track record, they’d be foolish to overextend for either of these guys, they’ll just get the next top talent out of the draft!

  11. It’s much easier to cultivate (and later replace) high quality receivers when there’s a high quality QB throwing to them. This is not a given in Pitt anymore.

  12. We need to stop treating team/player negotiations like they’re all one lump thing. Players have various demands, expectations, and wiggle room; ditto for the teams. Some are more flexible, others aren’t. With any given player, at a minimum, he has to consider the risks associated with going to a new team/scheme/system/coaches/supporting cast. For Johnson and Claypool, it behooves them to ask for more now, as there is a major risk that they won’t connect as well with PIT’s new QB and thus they should get their money. Otherwise, waiting makes sense for them, as they can get a feel for the new passer; they might even decide they’re better off elsewhere, more money or not.

  13. If a couple of teams overpay a position doesn’t mean that you should also make the same mistake.
    Let that person leave and get a replacement that are much lower cost and use the money elsewhere.

  14. A fan from a team the Bills embarrassed in the playoffs on defense has the nerve to say the Steelers offense is dumb down….irony is not dead folks.

    One will stay and I am betting on Johnson but at less than 30. Million…a lot less.

  15. A lot of the Steelers success is finding receivers was related to having a Hall of Fame quarterback. The receiver bubble will burst when those big deals for less than elite talent don’t pan out. Johnson is a good route runner, but he has too many drops. Claypool hasn’t learned how to use his size and speed to get good separation yet.

  16. Without Colbert in the front office anymore, I’m not so certain that they’ll be able to keep churning out these WRs. Colbert helped this year for the final time, so perhaps the 2 rookies will be rising stars yet again.

  17. Steelers will resign Claypool, trade or let Johnson go to another team for the compensation pick. Claypool is a football player — makes plays, blocks. Johnson runs out of bounds at the first chance to avoid contact and never blocks.

  18. I’m a Ravens fan and as much as I love our rivalry and love to see the Steelers lose talent, I gotta give credit where credit is due. I’d love for our front office to figure out what Pittsburgh has figured out when it comes to drafting receivers. Considering their track record, they’d be foolish to overextend for either of these guys, they’ll just get the next top talent out of the draft!

    ——————————————————–

    The Ravens can’t draft WRs and the Steelers can’t draft CBs. Maybe they should make an unholy alliance and share draft notes one year. Each team would improve!

  19. WRs are one of the easiest positions to replace. Almost like RBs. The market will reflect this in a year or two.

  20. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day all the owners and the NFL said enough is enough, let’s save the fans some money. After all it’s all us idiots who pay the ridiculous salaries. Ridiculous prices for cheap jerseys, crazy prices on beer, ticket prices and I can go on and on. Stop saying it’s not your money who’s paying them because it’s all your money.

  21. None of these WRs are going to get any big deals, because they will have terrible numbers this year trying to catch passes from Trubisky or a rookie. Their market value is about to plummet.

  22. only Ward and AB got 2nd WR contracts from the Steelers other than Ju Ju’s 1 yr

  23. Is 100 catches for 1100 yards in one year enough to get you $30 million? Only to a bad team that has either no/a bad quarterback or one that is on a rookie deal. No team that is very good will pay a guy like that $30 million. But let one dumb team do it, that’s all it takes.

  24. The Steelers are done. With Ben no longer there, Mike Tomlin will finally be exposed for the overrated coach he is!

  25. The Steelers pay the guys they need to pay. TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick – yes. Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith Schuster and BJ Finney – no. That franchise has always paid players what they are worth and let them move on if they wanted more. It’s a very well run franchise and that’s coming from a fan of another AFC North team. They’ll find other receivers the same way they did after not paying Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace and trading Antonio Brown. For that franchise they can always get new guys at that position.

  26. BuckyBadger says:
    July 5, 2022 at 4:26 pm
    WRs are one of the easiest positions to replace. Almost like RBs. The market will reflect this in a year or two.
    ——/———————————————
    Then why don’t most teams have great wide receivers and great RBs for that matter?

  27. Yea. And look how those receivers did when Ben wasn’t throwing them the ball. Look it up.

  28. They will fine when both of them leave , we watch them for 17 games and see who they really are !!! Not worth the $$ someone will pay them

  29. The WR market is going down after next year when Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes continue to be top 5 QBs after losing their No1 wide receivers after this season. Mahomes actually lost 3 experienced wide receivers who contributed last year, Rodgers two.

  30. Claypool is a diva as one of the leaked reports from Steelers camp said.

  31. I wouldn’t say it’s a foregone conclusion that they won’t ante up. They have seemingly committed to a young QB and they may feel continuity is important for a quarterback just beginning his career. With the cases of the other receivers before they had Roethlisberger who was established and better able to work with newer receivers.

  32. No question whoever is in charge of drafting WRs in Pittsburgh is extremely good at what they do.

  33. Steelers will be lucky to even have a receiver with a thousand yards this season.

  34. As long as the Steelers brass is satisfied with Tomlin getting you to 9 wins a year and a quick playoff ouster, it doesn’t really matter who they pay and do not. Tomlin would have been fired anywhere else but mediocrity is fine in Pittsburgh now.

  35. I’d never pay for a WR. You can find good ones all throughout the draft, as the Steelers and many other teams have proven time and time again. It’s a QB league, and the Steelers are sitting pretty at that position. With a very young QB, I would spend all my money on defense. Take the pressure off the QB. If the other team isn’t scoring, there’s no pressure. If you get too far behind, you’re looking at blitzes all day. Contrary to popular belief, a great defense is a young QB’s best friend. Every time I watch Johnson, he makes multiple mistakes. I probably wouldn’t sign him regardless.

  36. You left something out. Mike Wallace was never the same WR after he left Pittsburgh. He found himself in the NFL equivalent of the Witness Protection Program. AB was never the same WR after he left the Steelers. JuJu’s already talking about returning before he’s played a snap for KC. You can’t blame DJ or Claypool for getting paid, but there’s more to a career than the money. That may’ve been the case when players only made about 5 times the average American made. But not with the insane money they’re getting paid now. Brady could’ve made a LOT more in NE, but he wouldn’t have all those rings. Ask Dan Marino how much he’d have given up to win 1 SB. Archie Manning was the highest paid player in the league and never made the playoffs.

  37. johnnyshotwingsauces says:

    July 5, 2022 at 6:20 pm

    The Steelers are done. With Ben no longer there, Mike Tomlin will finally be exposed for the overrated coach he is!

    Went 8-8 with mason Rudolph and duck hodges in 2019.

    Went 9-7-1 with the ghost of Roethlisberger in 2021.

  38. I can see the Steelers possibly franchising Dionte Johnson next year. I can also see them letting Claypool go as he has repeatedly exhibited immaturity/childishness. Big, fast, strong, but not mentally what you want. This will happen.

  39. It’s a lot easier to develop WR’s when you have a HOF QB at the helm.

  40. Diontae Johnson is not worth anything even close to $20 million. I’m a diehard Steelers fan, and yet I can’t think of a single great catch this guy has ever made in his entire career. He’s mastered the art of catching 2 yd bubble screens and running for 5 yds. Add in the killer drops and hard pass.

    It’s time for Claypool to put up or shut up, unfortunately the HOF QB is gone so good luck with that. He likes to talk the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. He thinks he’s top 3 in the entire league and it’s highly likely he won’t even be top 2 on his own team by mid-season. A guy that thinks like that isn’t going to sign a reasonable deal, so start planning for a future without him.

  41. I think one point not noted nearly enough is that some of the best WRs are divas and some are great team guys. You’re smart to let the divas walk rather than overpay. Can’t say on Johnson, but pretty sure Claypool fits more in the Santonio Holmes/Antonio Brown mold and it would be smart to let him walk.

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