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Steelers WR Johnson joins OTAs amid murky contract status

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson returned to work on Tuesday, joining his teammates for the second week of organized team activities.

Johnson, a Pro Bowler last season, did not participate during last week's three OTA sessions. The sessions, as coach Mike Tomlin has noted repeatedly, are voluntary. The 25-year-old Johnson is ready to enter the final season of the rookie contract he signed after the Steelers selected him in the third round in 2019.

Pittsburgh as a rule does not negotiate contracts during the regular season, meaning the Steelers have a little more than three months to get an extension done with Johnson if they consider him an important part of the club's future.

The Steelers did select two wide receivers during last month's draft, taking George Pickens in the second round and Calvin Austin III in the fourth. Johnson declined interview requests on Tuesday, saying he would talk next week during the team's mandatory minicamp.

Still, his presence meant he was given a chance to work with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett for the first time since the Steelers selected him with the 20th overall pick.

"You can see off the bat how special a player (Johnson) is," Pickett said. "I am excited to get more time to work with him and see what I can do to help his game out."

Johnson caught a career-best 107 passes for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns last season and is now the most-established wide receiver in the room after JuJu Smith-Schuster left for Kansas City in free agency.


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Updated May 31, 2022

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