April 23, 2024

There’s still a lot of football to be played for the San Francisco 49ers—at least, we hope so—but 2023 is coming to an end for much of the NFL. Many are now looking ahead to 2024 and what might be done over the ensuing offseason. Though it is far from the thoughts of the 49ers and their supporters, the possibility of a Brandon Aiyuk trade is likely to surface in the coming weeks.

Of course, no one in the Bay Area wants to hear that type of nonsense. When the realities of the 49ers’ talent bonanza become clear—there are a lot of really excellent players who will need to be paid—the 49ers will have to make some difficult decisions. A Brandon Aiyuk move could become necessary to balance the books.

That’s one of the motivations behind a proposed trade from Bleacher Report this week, which they describe a transaction that “makes too much sense.” Aiyuk would be traded to Jacksonville in exchange for a first-round pick and other draft considerations.

The 49ers Would Rather Not Deal

According to the author of the B/R piece, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence needs more support, and the organization is unsure whether receiver Calvin Ridley is a legitimate No. 1. Jacksonville would benefit greatly from a Brandon Aiyuk trade in this situation. This season, he has 1,317 yards receiving on 72 receptions and seven touchdowns. And he’s still only 25 years old.

“While the Niners would reportedly prefer not to trade Aiyuk due to his fit in the offense and strong chemistry with burgeoning quarterback Brock Purdy, salary-cap constraints may leave them with little choice in the matter,” Kay stated in an email.

“The Jaguars should be very interested in Aiyuk if he becomes available.” If the Jaguars decide to extend Ridley, they will forfeit a second-round pick as part of the trade terms. Instead, Jacksonville may put that money into acquiring Aiyuk, who would most certainly cost a first-round pick plus additional draft picks.”

That’s a good haul for Aiyuk. The cuts the team would have to make elsewhere—for example, star tight end George Kittle or some of the team’s defensive talent—could push the 49ers to make the move.

 

Brandon Aiyuk - San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver - ESPN

 

Trade or Holdout for Brandon Aiyuk?

Because Aiyuk is under contract, the 49ers are not have to make a trade for him next season. Last winter, the team exercised his fifth-year option for $14.1 million. However, according to Spotrac, he has a market value of $22.8 million a year, putting him in line for a $91.4 million contract over four seasons. Given the 49ers’ upcoming expenditures, that may prove to be too much.

According to OverTheCap.com, the 49ers are already $7.5 million over the NFL’s $242 million salary ceiling for next season.

That is why Aiyuk may be relocated. He’d almost likely have suitors. This year, he earned a Pro Football Focus score of 92.0, making him the NFL’s No. 2 receiver. Aiyuk is well aware of his rising value, and if the 49ers force him to play for the $14.1 million he is owed, he could stage a holdout similar to Nick Bosa did last summer.

However, the 49ers are likely to want to prevent that, and, like it or not, a Brandon Aiyuk deal is the most effective way to do so.

 

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