LAtrobe, Pennsylvania (AP) – Deontay Johnson has watched the vast receiver market explode during the holiday season. The dollar amounts were so staggering that it was impossible for Johnson to ignore them when he entered contract negotiations with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“You see the numbers,” Johnson said. “But I didn’t try to look into everyone’s pockets.”
Johnson was trying to get back to his job. One returned to full-time employment on Thursday after agreeing to a new three-year contract worth more than $39 million. That’s a lot of money to be sure, not on par with some of the other huge deals his high-profile brothers have signed in recent weeks.
You took the right deal,” said Johnson, a first-time Pro Bowler in 2021 after hitting career highs in receptions (107), 1,161 meters and touchdowns (eight).
The 26-year-old was entering the final season of a junior deal he signed after entering the third round of the 2019 draft. Johnson skipped part of the team’s volunteer program, and while he made it to training camp on time, he didn’t participate in any 11-on-11 drills or 7 on 7 trying to protect his health.
Johnson said he took as many “mental delegates” as possible and never thought of continuing.
“I wanted to be next to (my teammates),” Johnson said, adding that he did not want to “show that kind of (negative) energy” by skipping the club’s return to training camp at St Vincent College after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. .
Johnson would have held his “grip” all the way into the season opener – as All-Pro teammate TJ Watt did last summer – but now he doesn’t have to, having reached an agreement on a deal that offers him and the Levellers a little flexibility.
It doesn’t lock Pittsburgh in a long-term position if Johnson backs down and gives Johnson a chance to really cash in during his prime if he overrides the deal, although Johnson has emphasized that his goal is to stay with the Steelers for the rest of his career.
“I got that intuitively, it was the right move for me,” he said.
Johnson admitted he was a little bored standing aside during the most physical part of the practice. That ended on Thursday, and he wasted little time in showing his willingness to work with new quarterback Mitch Trubesky.
Trubisky, who is vying with Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Beckett to replace retired Ben Roethlisberger, found Johnson in Johnson’s first 11-for-1 shot after Johnson passed cornerback Akello Witherspoon.
“I just showed what I can do,” Johnson said. “This is what I do on a daily basis.”
Tired of answering daily questions about Johnson’s standing, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin praised Johnson for “keeping in touch” with his teammates as negotiations began.
“His train left the station today,” Tomlin said. “I imagine there won’t be much of a transition in terms of keeping up with the pace.”
Johnson finds himself as the most widely held receiver on the list after leaving JuJu Smith-Schuster for Kansas City on free agency. Johnson is good at taking on a leadership role in a group that includes Chase Claypool, rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III.
“Whatever questions they have or need help with on a particular route, I will always be there for them,” he said. “Obviously, I will continue to lead by example. Hopefully, that feeds into the rest of the group, so I am ready to go.”
Notes: The Steelers activated Minkah Fitzpatrick’s safety from their non-football injury list on Thursday. Fitzpatrick was recovering from a wrist problem he sustained in a bicycle accident. … DB Cam Sutton quit training with what Tomlin called a lower body injury. … CB Levi Wallace sat outside due to illness.
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