Diontae Johnson hits back at critics after Carolina Panthers trade

The wide receiver is looking to prove people wrong.
Diontae Johnson
Diontae Johnson / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Diontae Johnson is re-focused and looking to silence some increasing doubters. The wide receiver was acquired via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason as the Carolina Panthers look to make life easier for quarterback Bryce Young. It's a low-risk acquisition thanks to the compensation attached, but the rewards could be substantial.

Johnson is one of the smoothest route-runners around. He creates separation effortlessly and knows how to find the soft spots in coverage. Despite these positives, some concerns are being highlighted by those around the media that cannot be overlooked.

There's a reason why the Steelers disposed of Johnson for nothing more than a late-round pick swap and cornerback Donte Jackson. The former third-round selection was tabbed as a disruptive presence in the locker room. Someone who had no trouble rubbing his teammates the wrong way and becoming a distraction when he felt targets weren't plentiful. When the opportunity to remove the wideout from the equation arrived, the AFC North outfit didn't hesitate.

Diontae Johnson looking to prove himself with the Carolina Panthers

Johnson got the chance to tell his side of the story when speaking to Joe Person of The Athletic. In the face of criticism and adversity, the prolific pass-catcher is focusing on what he can control and ignoring the outside noise. He remains confident in his abilities and is aiming to shut up the critics by showing out for the Panthers in 2024.

"Everybody’s gonna have their opinion about me. People are gonna say what they want to say about me. But I know what type of player I am. I know what type of attitude I bring to the table. I didn’t really pay attention to stuff like that. I can only control what I can control. What people are saying about me is their opinion. It’s just words at the end of the day. As long I keep putting my best foot forward and bringing my best attitude forward, they can’t really say anything or whatever they want about me. All I’ve gotta do is come in here and be consistent, not try to press or anything."

Diontae Johnson via The Athletic

His time with the Steelers may have ended under a cloud, but there's nothing Johnson can do about that now. What's important is grasping this opportunity, developing the correct chemistry with Young, and bonding well with his teammates. After that, everything else should fall into place.

There is also the small matter of this being a contract year for Johnson. The Panthers are giving him a legitimate audition for another deal, but there are no guarantees attached whatsoever. Anything less than outstanding production and the character of a model professional might see those in power cut ties with no financial ramifications attached.

The stakes are high for Johnson on his road to mending a once-flourishing reputation. Every wide receiver needs a little diva in them, it's about knowing where the cut-off line is and not taking frustrations too far.

This is the Toledo product's sixth season, so he should know better. Being humbled by his Steelers' departure might also help get him back on track, in all honesty.

Johnson seems motivated and willing to do whatever it takes to help the Panthers enjoy improved fortunes moving forward. Placing him alongside Adam Thielen, first-round pick Xavier Legette, and 2023 second-rounder Jonathan Mingo comes with intrigue. If this becomes a productive quartet and the offensive line improves, Young has no excuses.

And who knows, it might also be enough to convince those in power that Johnson is worth keeping around beyond 2024 along the way.