NFL Rumor Roundup: Diontae Johnson's hold-in with Steelers, Odell Beckham Jr. to Rams and more

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) participates in minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

NFL training camp is in full swing, and the 2022 NFL preseason is just around the corner.

Here's what we're hearing from sources around the league.


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson is in the midst of a hold-in, meaning he’s present at training camp but not participating, as he seeks a contract extension. Johnson is another member of the 2019 wide receiver draft class that has already seen A.J. Brown ($25 million APY), Hunter Renfrow ($15.85M APY), Terry McLaurin ($23.2M APY), DK Metcalf ($24M APY) and Deebo Samuel ($23.85M APY) sign high-priced contract extensions. 

One interesting note: The highest-paid wide receivers of that group all share the same agent, Tory Dandy. Renfrow, McLaurin and Johnson all have different agents. 

Johnson’s agent has had recent talks with the Steelers, per a source. The Steelers historically don’t continue negotiating during the season, meaning time is of the essence for a deal to get done this summer.

One NFC personnel director doesn’t believe that Johnson is on the same level talent-wise as Brown, Metcalf and Samuel, but “he’s a good player and the free agent WR class for 2023 stinks, so he could get a very big pay day.”

Johnson might wind up making more money as a free agent next year than he would in a contract extension with Pittsburgh. The Steelers already have Chase Claypool and selected George Pickens and Calvin Austin in the 2022 NFL Draft. We saw what wide receivers can command on the open market this offseason when Christian Kirk signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide receiver contract numbers have only increased since Kirk signed. 

Marvin Jones, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Zach Pascal and Allen Lazard are among the top wide receivers set to hit free agency next offseason. Johnson has a 74.7 PFF receiving grade since 2019. That ranks 58th out of 153 qualified wide receivers: below Brown (91.3), Samuel (88.1), McLaurin (86.7), Metcalf (85.4) and Renfrow (83.0) but above Kirk (67.8).


Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay tossed out Odell Beckham Jr.’s name when mentioning potential replacements if Van Jefferson (knee) isn’t ready for Week 1. 

“And then we’ll figure out when Odell can come back at some point,” McVay said smiling. 

Beckham tore his ACL in the Rams’ Super Bowl win. One source close to Beckham said the wide receiver is “strong — real strong” and “bigger than I’ve seen him ever.” That same source said Beckham’s knee is ahead of schedule.


The Las Vegas Raiders aren’t concerned over tight end Darren Waller’s recent absence from training camp. 

“He’s fine,” one source said.


NFL Media reported Monday that the Chicago Bears “have received calls and held trade talks centered around” offensive tackle and 2021 second-round pick Teven Jenkins. One source close to Jenkins said he’d be surprised if something happened quickly there. 

Jenkins has been absent for five straight days of practice. He missed most of last season after undergoing back surgery but played in six games and started two for the Bears, earning a 47.5 offensive grade. 

The reason it’s not overly shocking to see the Bears willing to move on so quickly from a recent high pick is the regime change in Chicago. General manager Ryan Poles replaced Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Eberflus replaced Matt Nagy this offseason. Just last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded away 2020 ninth overall pick cornerback C.J. Henderson to the Carolina Panthers after a similar regime change. Draft picks can fall out of favor quickly with new head coaches and general managers, especially if there’s a shift in scheme.


Bears linebacker Roquan Smith is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list but is considered another hold-in as he seeks a new contract on the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. One source indicated it could be lengthy and that the offer is “several million dollars apart” from the top linebacker extension figures.


The New England Patriots are encouraged by rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton’s progress so far in training camp. The speedy but slight wideout was a standout during Tuesday’s session, only the Patriots’ second practice in pads. Thornton is 6-foot-2 and 182 pounds but has speed to burn, so it’s good to see him shining despite the fact that contact is now allowed in practice. 

He’ll compete with Meyers, Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker for snaps. Parker has also asserted himself well early in his first camp with the Patriots, making contested catches in red-zone situations.

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