Along with his first training camp, Omar Khan is also dealing with his first hold-in as Pittsburgh Steelers general manager.
Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson remains present at team practices but not participating amid a stalemate on a contract extension. Khan said Tuesday the team and Johnson's representatives have taken part in contract talks but divulged little else.
"The conversations we have with Diontae and his representatives are going to stay between us," Khan told reporters Tuesday. "We don't discuss that publicly, but we have been in conversations. We want Diontae and we are excited to have Diontae a part of this team. We hope he is going to be a Steeler for a long time."
Johnson has been a Steeler for three years so far and is entering the last year of his rookie contract after he was taken in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The 26-year-old is due a $2.79 million base salary in 2022.
With San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel and Seattle Seahawks wideout DK Metcalf each having concluded their training camp hold-ins and signed shiny new deals, Johnson is the lone remaining hold-in. Metcalf garnered a three-year, $72 million agreement, while Samuel signed for a three-year extension worth up to $73.5 million.
While many might not put Johnson atop the list of the game's brightest young receivers, his statistics would suggest otherwise.
Johnson has improved his receptions, yardage and touchdown numbers in each of his three seasons with the Steelers. Having just turned 26 in July, Johnson is coming off a Pro Bowl campaign in which he had 169 targets (tied for second in the NFL with Davante Adams), and career highs of 107 receptions (tied for fifth in the NFL), 1,161 yards (10th) and eight touchdowns (tied for 16th).
Whether or not Johnson remains in the conversation with the likes of Samuel and Metcalf where numbers are concerned, right now the Steelers are simply focusing more on Chase Claypool, rookie Carl Pickens, Miles Boykin and a host of other receivers in Johnson's absence from drills.
"Obviously you want everyone out practicing," Khan said, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, "but we've taken the approach that, we were using it as an opportunity to look at the other guys that are practicing -- especially the young guys get some good work."