Panthers trade CB Donte Jackson for Steelers WR Diontae Johnson; teams exchange draft selections

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NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported on Tuesday that the Panthers are getting broad receiver Diontae Johnson and a 2024 seventh-round pick (No. 240 overall) from the Steelers in exchange for cornerback Donte Jackson and a 2024 sixth-round selection (No. 178 overall).

Even though he had led Pittsburgh in receptions in two of the previous three seasons, Johnson—a former third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft—was being watched by trade teams before his free agency.

Over his five years in the NFL, the 27-year-old wide receiver has accumulated 4,363 yards and 25 touchdowns. Johnson’s hands have let him down occasionally, particularly at the beginning of his career, but he still has 391 career receptions and a compelling ability to get open in space.

George Pickens surpassed Johnson in 2023 as the team’s top target. Johnson missed four games due to injuries last season, and his career-low 51 receptions were also a result of his injuries. However, he surpassed his rookie year’s 11.5 yards per reception for a new career high of 14.1.

With plenty of career remaining, he will try to help Young get back on track following the quarterback’s difficult first campaign, in which he led the worst passing offense in the league.

In the meantime, Jackson’s entrance strengthens the Steelers’ already formidable defense, but Johnson’s exit leaves them without a single established pass-catcher when Russell Wilson arrives.

Jackson, a second-round pick in 2018, has started 80 games at cornerback for Carolina and has 14 interceptions in his career with the Black and Gold. He and Patrick Queen are Pittsburgh’s biggest defensive additions this offseason.