Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
The San Francisco 49ers and do-it-all
playmaker Deebo Samuel could be heading toward a breakup as trade
buzz grows ahead of the 2022 NFL season.
Speculation about the 2021 Pro Bowl
selection’s future entered the spotlight in early April when the wide
receiver removed all references to the Niners on his social media
pages. Speculation became reality Wednesday when Jeff Darlington of ESPN spoke to Samuel, who confirmed he has requested a trade from San Francisco.
Samuel, 26, is entering the final season of
his four-year, $7.2 million rookie contract. Prior to the wide receiver’s request for a change of scenery, there had been no indication the sides were close to an agreement on an extension.
Adam Schefter reported Tuesday on NFL Live (via Wilton Jackson of
Sports Illustrated) the 49ers were willing to pay fair market value,
but their top offensive weapon wasn’t willing to engage.
“This, I think right now, is Deebo
Samuel not wanting to get a deal done,” Schefter said. “… The
49ers are ready. Deebo Samuel is the one who has put a halt to
everything for right now.”
San Francisco doesn’t have to make a
trade. It could stand on the last year of his contract and
use the franchise tag to keep him for 2023. The question is
whether Samuel may be willing to hold out to force the team’s hand in the wake of the trade demand.
With the 2022 draft set to kick off
April 28, the Niners may have to make a snap decision about what to do with a player
who tallied 15 total touchdowns in 2021 (eight rushing, six receiving
and one passing).
If they decide to grant the request and seek out trade
offers, the Miami Dolphins helped lay the groundwork with their
blockbuster deal for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill in
March. Miami gave up five draft picks: first-, second- and
fourth-rounders in 2022 along with fourth- and sixth-rounders in
Hill has a longer track record of
success than Samuel, so the Niners’ haul likely wouldn’t match what
the Dolphins paid, but it could come close.
Here are a few hypothetical trade
packages if a deal is made before this year’s
- New York Jets send: No. 10, No. 69 and 2023 third-rounder
- Baltimore Ravens send: No. 14, No. 76 and 2023 third-rounder
- Los Angeles Chargers send: No. 17, No. 79 and 2023 third-rounder
Those offers would allow the 49ers to
send Samuel to the AFC. If they’re willing to consider proposals from
NFC rivals, there will be other possible suitors:
- Atlanta Falcons send: No. 8, No. 82 and 2023 third-rounder
- Chicago Bears send: No. 39, No. 71 and 2023 first-rounder
- Washington Commanders send: No. 11, No. 113 and 2023 second-rounder
Ideally for San Francisco, it’ll find a
way to work through the impasse with Samuel and sign him to a
long-term contract extension to retain a key member of its offensive
If that’s not possible, getting three
assets, including a first-round pick, represents a solid return for a
player they selected in the second round of the 2019 draft.