What Is Diontae Johnson’s Value

What is Diontae Johnson's Value?
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What is Diontae Johnson’s value? That is a very popular question this offseason amongst Steelers Nation. Depending on who you ask Diontae Johnson’s value is as high as any wide receiver in the league, or outside the top 20 players at the position.

Diontae Johnson will be entering his fourth NFL season this fall. That means this summer he is “extension eligible”. Pittsburgh can sign Johnson to a long term deal, without him ever having to hit free agency. But what is Diontae Johnson’s value?

“Value” of a player isn’t always just tied to that player’s abilities. You can’t just look at a list of receivers and say, “well Johnson is better than X, but not better than Y, so he’ll make something between the two. Just like anything there is a market that is “alive” which helps determine what a player is “worth”.

This market also has a time factor. The market in 2019 was very different than the market here in 2022. This is partly how to explain a player such as Christian Kirk having a bigger APY than Adam Thielen or Michael Thomas.

While we’re on the topic of APY, let’s dig in a little deeper.

Average Per Year

A player’s APY, or average per year, is the amount of money that player made in a season if their pay was equally divided across the life of their contract. Now this isn’t how most NFL contracts work, but it does make for an easy way to compare contracts.

The Top 20 wide receivers in the NFL by APY make at minimum $15 million per season. Here are the list of 20 names, and the year in which they signed their current deal:

  1. Tyreek Hill (2022)
  2. Davante Adams (2022)
  3. DeAndre Hopkins (2020)
  4. Cooper Kupp (2022)
  5. A.J. Brown (2022)
  6. Stefon Diggs (2022)
  7. D.J. Moore (2022)
  8. Keenan Allen (2020)
  9. Chris Godwin (2022)
  10. Mike Williams (2022)
  11. Amari Cooper (2020)
  12. Brandin Cooks (2022)
  13. Michael Thomas (2019) 
  14. Kenny Golloday (2021)
  15. Christian Kirk (2022) 
  16. Tyler Lockett (2021)
  17. Mike Evans (2018)
  18. Robert Woods (2020)
  19. Allen Robinson (2022)
  20. Courtland Sutton (2021)

This list is what I’m working off to get a general feel for where Diontae Johnson’s value slots in. Keep in mind the year they signed the current deal. Michael Thomas is 13th on this list, but that deal was signed in 2019 and the market has changed since. The players who signed their deals in 2022 are the ones to look at most closely.

Player Rankings

For the purposes of this exercise we’ll use the above list as a “ranking” of the league’s wide receivers. Remember this ranking involved contracts which have variables such as teams, what other players were free agents/up for extensions at the time, and again, the market. And taking our above point into account, let’s just look at the players who signed their deals this year:

  1. Tyreek Hill (2022)
  2. Davante Adams (2022)
  3. DeAndre Hopkins (2020)
  4. Cooper Kupp (2022)
  5. A.J. Brown (2022)
  6. Stefon Diggs (2022)
  7. D.J. Moore (2022)
  8. Keenan Allen (2020)
  9. Chris Godwin (2022)
  10. Mike Williams (2022)
  11. Amari Cooper (2020)
  12. Brandin Cooks (2022)
  13. Michael Thomas (2019) 
  14. Kenny Golloday (2021)
  15. Christian Kirk (2022) 
  16. Tyler Lockett (2021)
  17. Mike Evans (2018)
  18. Robert Woods (2020)
  19. Allen Robinson (2022)
  20. Courtland Sutton (2021)

Without having any of the numbers attached it’s pretty easy to put Johnson in the Mike Williams/Chris Godwin/D.J. Moore tier. Johnson is comfortably ahead of Brandin Cooks and Kirk as a player, but definitely below Stefon Diggs and A.J. Brown. Now let’s attach some numbers to Williams, Godwin and Moore.

  • D.J. Moore – APY $20,628,000
  • Chris Godwin – APY $20,000,000
  • Mike Williams – APY $20,000,000

Last year Johnson topped this group in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. The only person to beat him in any of these categories was Williams by one touchdown. Johnson also did this in just his third NFL season, whereas the others were in their fourth or fifth.

Conclusion

With that said, it’s looking like any conversation about Diontae Johnson’s value is going to have to start in the $20-21 million APY range. How far up or down it goes from there remains to be seen. Then whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers decide to offer that sort of contract is a completely different question.

I myself can see both sides. I do believe Johnson as a player is worth that amount. That’s the price of a Top 10-15 receiver, and that is what Johnson is. However I usually don’t favor spending big money on a wideout unless they are an All-Pro level player. Only time will tell from here.

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