Insider: Steelers Traded Receiver Due to Immaturity

According to insider Ray Fittipaldo, the Steelers traded Diontae Johnson due to maturity issues.
Jan 15, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) runs the ball in for a touch-down in the first half against the Buffalo Bills in a 2024 AFC wild card game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) runs the ball in for a touch-down in the first half against the Buffalo Bills in a 2024 AFC wild card game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports / Kirby Leei-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers and Diontae Johnson were destined for a divorce. After three promising seasons in the black and gold, the relationship between the Steelers and Johnson soured. The last two seasons of his tenure in Pittsburgh were full of rumors, teammate altercations, and a general sense that Johnson wanted out.

So, when the Steelers traded Johnson to the Carolina Panthers for cornerback Donte Jackson, it wasn't a surprise. Many anticipated the move coming. What was surprising, was the reasons the Steelers leadership gave for the move.

When the trade first happened, the team was tight-lipped regarding any drama between the team and Johnson. Mike Tomlin downplayed that notion, and gave a simple reason for the trade.

"Really it was simple, man," Tomlin told reporters. "We traded player for player, we had an opportunity to get [Jackson]."

Maybe Tomlin cited this reason to downplay the rumors and tension in the room. Maybe Tomlin was overly excited about acquiring another starting cornerback alongside Joey Porter Jr. The team did scout Jackson out of college and when he was a free agent, after all. Either way, his reasoning for the trade seemingly put the Johnson issue to bed.

Months later, that issue is still not laid to rest. According to some insiders, the Steelers jettisoned Johnson out of town because of his issues. Recently, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette appeared on Press Coverage on SiriusXM NFL Radio, and shared some shocking news regarding the Johnson-Jackson move.

Speaking about the trade, Fittipaldo referred to Johnson as a "big issue" in the Steelers' locker room. So, when the opportunity presented itself, the team was happy to move on from their top receiver. According to him, the biggest reason for the trade was Johnson's immaturity, not to improve the team as a whole.

“That’s why they traded Diontae Johnson. He was an older guy, but he was still making a lot of youthful mistakes and not always acting his age or what was best for that receiver room,” Fittipaldo stated.

The revelation from Fittipaldo isn't shocking. Since the Steelers drafted George Pickens, the team has been hellbent on developing him into a superstar. Diontae Johnson, on the other hand, is entering the final season of his current deal and was being pushed farther down the line for Pickens. If he wasn't going to be a veteran leader in the locker room, the Steelers and Johnson were no longer a good match.

A new start is exactly what Diontae Johnson and the Pittsburgh Steelers needed. The relationship worked for a time, but Johnson's antics and locker room issues were too much to overcome. Now, Johnson gets a chance to shine in Carolina, and the Steelers try to move on with a more mature receiver room.

Make sure you bookmark All Steelers for the latest news, exclusive interviews, film breakdowns and so much more

Subscribe to the All Steelers YouTube Channel


Published
Jacob Punturi

JACOB PUNTURI

Follow Jacon Punturi on Twitter. Read his latest work: