Chiefs a Prime Landing Spot for Disgruntled WR in Need of Fresh Start

The Kansas City Chiefs need to re-tool their wide receiver room this offseason in hopes of pulling off a three-peat during the 2024 season.

Though there are plenty of options for them to add to that room via free agency and the draft, there’s another pass catcher that’s potentially on the trade block and would be a good fit for Kansas City’s offense:

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson.

Sportskeeda NFL insider Tony Pauline revealed on March 3 that, though Johnson isn’t technically on the trade block, “several people tell me the Steelers are open to moving the receiver if they receive fair compensation.”

But before we get into what it would take to acquire Johnson, let’s look at what he has done thus far in his NFL career.

What to Know About Diontae Johnson

Johnson, 27, entered the NFL as a third-round pick — 66th overall — of the Steelers in 2019 out of Toledo.

Standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing 183 pounds, Johnson doesn’t beat NFL cornerbacks with physicality. However, his great footwork, acceleration, and shiftiness trump his size and speed (ran a 4.53 40-yard dash to the NFL Scouting Combine) to help him get open regularly.

Johnson’s best season to date was in 2021, which was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final season in Pittsburgh. During that season, Johnson recorded career-highs in targets (166), catches (107), receiving yards (1,161), and touchdowns (8), per PFF.

But the departure of Roethlisberger and the arrival of quarterbacks Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky and receiver George Pickens in 2022 took a toll on Johnson’s production.

After registering an 86-882-0 stat line during the 2022 season, Johnson’s 2023 campaign included some of his lowest totals across the board since his rookie season (51 catches, 717 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns).

Inconsistent QB play as well as poor play-calling by offensive coordinator Matt Canada (who was fired in-season) left Johnson frustrated, which impacted his play on the field during the 2023 season.

What Would it Take for Chiefs to Acquire Diontae Johnson?

The Chiefs, who have a lot of unproven commodities at receiver outside of second-year wideout Rashee Rice, would be a great fit for Johnson. As a player who is capable of playing multiple receiver roles, Johnson could provide another safety valve for QB Patrick Mahomes, which would improve Kansas City’s offense overall.

The question that remains: What would it take for the Chiefs to acquire Johnson?

To answer that question, let’s look at the Dallas Cowboys‘s trade with the Houston Texans in 2023 to acquire receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks, who had $12 million due to him in 2023 as well as in 2024 per Over the Cap, was traded to Dallas in exchange for a fifth-round pick and a sixth-round pick.

Cooks is several years older than Johnson but also has a stronger track record in the NFL. Cooks also had two years remaining on his contract when he was traded, and if Johnson is traded this offseason he only has one year left on his extension.

Taking all of this into consideration, it’s plausible that Johnson could be had for a third-round pick plus a Day 3 pick.

If Johnson was traded to the two-time defending Super Bowl champions, he could then sign an extension with the team which would significantly lower his cap hit for the 2024 season ($15.8 million).

Bundling Johnson with another receiver via the draft in April would revitalize Kansas City’s receiver room and put the Chiefs’ offense back on track in 2024.

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