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Carolina Panthers

Panthers trade for immediate receiving help, and draft picks

Diontae Johnson

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers stepped into the new league year Wednesday, completing a pair of trades that point to the future.

The team acquired Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson to give quarterback Bryce Young a reliable target and a player who has shown the ability to get open and make plays.

The Panthers sent cornerback Donte Jackson and a sixth-round pick (178th overall) to the Steelers for Johnson and a seventh-round pick (240th), giving the Panthers a legitimate receiver with Pro Bowl credentials.

In an earlier deal, they also sent outside linebacker Brian Burns and a fifth-round pick (166th overall) to the Giants in exchange for a second-rounder (39th), a higher fifth-rounder (141st), and a 2025 fifth-rounder. That adds to the draft inventory they have, as they now have a pair of picks in the top 40 (33rd and 39th).

However, the deal for Johnson should provide an immediate impact.

Diontae Johnson

Johnson's caught 391 passes for 4,363 yards and 25 touchdowns in five seasons with the Steelers, the kind of experience and productivity they needed. The Panthers needed a proven target with a young group behind Adam Thielen, including Jonathan Mingo, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, and others.

Johnson had 51 catches for 717 yards last season, upping his yards per catch average to 14.1 (he's a career 11.2 per catch).

But he caught at least 85 passes each of the previous three years. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2021 after his 107-catch, 1,161-yard season.

He has one year left on his existing contract.

Brian Burns, Donte Jackson

Jackson, a former team captain and the team's second-round pick in 2018, had 14 interceptions in six seasons here (tied with Doug Evans and Richard Marshall for fifth on the team's all-time list).

He didn't have a pick last year, but he played in 16 games for a team hit heavily by injuries at the position. He missed the second half of the 2022 season with a torn Achilles.

By moving Burns, the Panthers created $24 million in immediate cap room, which helped create space for their early splurge in free agency.

Burns, the team's 2019 first-rounder, had 46.0 sacks in five seasons and went to two Pro Bowls.

With the two trades, the Panthers have a total of seven picks in the 2024 draft, including the 33rd, 39th, 65th, 101st, 141st, 142nd, and 240th.

View action shots of Diontae Johnson throughout his career.

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