Steelers GM Omar Khan says Pittsburgh has spoken with Deontay Johnson’s representatives regarding his contract.

One of the biggest stories heading into the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 training camp is the contract situation for Devonta Johnson. While he is in Latrobe, Johnson. Not participating in team practices. As the Pro Bowl wideout continues to “hold in” for a new contract.

Before the team took the practice field Tuesday, new Steelers general manager Omar Khan addressed Johnson’s contract status during a press conference. Khan said the team is in talks with Johnson’s representatives.

“Our discussions between Diontae and his representatives will remain between us.” Khan said. “We won’t discuss it publicly, but we have been in discussions.”

The fact that the Steelers have not addressed Johnson’s expiring rookie contract has led to some speculation that Johnson may not be part of the team’s long-term plans. Khan maintained this narrative.

“We want Diontae,” Khan said. “We are very excited to have Diontae as a part of this team. We expect him to be a Steeler for a long time.”

Khan echoed Steelers coach Mike Tomlin when asked about players not practicing. While he would obviously love to see Johnson practice with his teammates, Khan said the team is focused on evaluating the players who are practicing. Johnson’s absence has created more opportunities for the Steelers’ smaller wideouts, he said. Although he didn’t mention them by name, Khan was likely referring to rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Johnson’s presence has also allowed Anthony Miller, the Bears’ second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, a chance to show what he can do in the passing game.

“I can’t speak for Coach T,” Khan said, “but obviously, like I mentioned, you want everybody out there practicing. … Our focus is on the guys out there. who are practicing. We’re taking the opportunity to review. Those people and see how they connect.”

As for Johnson’s contract, the recent boom in salaries for top-shelf receivers hasn’t helped the Steelers. Five years ago, the Steelers made Antonio Brown the highest-paid wideout in league history when he signed a contract that paid him an average of $17 million a season. Now, 14 receivers make at least $20 million annually, with several big-name receivers getting hefty contracts and extensions this offseason. Johnson, who is set to make just under $3 million this season, has a current market value that would pay him about $21.5 million annually, according to Spotrac.

“I think it’s a function of the times and the system we’re in,” Khan said of the pay raises for recipients. “It’s part of the process. I assume, regardless of position, those things will continue to grow. The CBA grows, contracts will grow.”

One thing that is clear is that both the Steelers and Johnson want to continue their partnership beyond this season (Johnson recently said that He wants to stay in Pittsburgh long-term.). At issue is whether or not Johnson will agree to play one more year on his rookie contract. Given the Steelers’ long-standing tradition of not negotiating contracts in the season, both sides have until September. 5 on the deal before Pittsburgh kicks things off at Cincinnati in Week 1.