Three Brandon Aiyuk Trade Destinations

Three Brandon Aiyuk Trade Destinations

Brandon Aiyuk had a breakout season for the San Francisco 49ers, posting a career-high in yards with 1,342 to go along with 75 catches and seven touchdowns. Those numbers are even more impressive in the context of Kyle Shanahan’s equal-opportunity offense that features Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and a powerful run game behind Christian McCaffrey. Aiyuk is entering the last year of his contract and is up for a big-time extension this offseason.

Normally a team coming off a Super Bowl run wouldn’t hesitate to lock up a 26-year-old 1,000-yard receiver. But the Niners have a lot of mouths to feed. More importantly, Aiyuk will want to reset the market with a huge deal– something like the four-year, $100 million deal AJ Brown signed with $57 million guaranteed. Unlike Brown, though, he resides in the weird tier of wideouts that appear to have the talent to be a true No. 1 but hasn’t had the opportunity to prove it due to the talent around them.

All that serves as context for why you may have seen Aiyuk’s name pop up in trade rumors over the last few days. The Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly sniffed around a deal for Aiyuk but, at this time, are not interested in the asking price that would come before a big-money extension.

This report indicates, if anything, that San Francisco is open for business and other teams are poking around. Like the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Given we’re still over a month out from the draft and several months from actual football any potential deal will take time. Aiyuk still has one year left on his deal so there’s no rush for the 49ers to trade him. This is also somewhat their modus operandi; there were similar rumors about Samuel when he was up for a raise in 2022 and he ended up signing an extension on the eve of training camp. However, this year’s draft will bring an absolutely loaded class of receivers. If San Francisco thinks they can replace Aiyuk’s production for cheap with the help of a trade, they will not hesitate to do so.

Should they go down that route, here are three possible trade destinations for Aiyuk.

The Jaguars have been linked and thus merit a mention in this piece, despite them appearing to be out at the current price point. Which, to me, doesn’t seem all that bad! Aiyuk is a significant upgrade over Zay Jones. The No. 17 overall pick would hurt to lose, especially with the knowledge that some real stud wideouts have been taken in that range over the last few drafts. But the Jags need to think long and hard about exchanging Aiyuk for the chance at drafting someone as good as him.

The franchise has tried and failed to find Trevor Lawrence a No. 1 wideout. The clock is not ticking by any means but they’ve only got two more seasons before Lawrence’s giant extension (which he will undoubtedly sign next offseason) will kick in. Right now is when they spend money to get him weapons even if it might feel like an overpay. Getting Lawrence a legit talent at receiver that didn’t come from the bargain bin or free agency is paramount and they seem to have an opportunity to do so right now. They should.

The Steelers being included in these trade talks is interesting given their recent rich history of finding receiver talent in the middle of the draft. But it isn’t hard to understand why they might be interested in Aiyuk despite that. Pittsburgh just traded Diontae Johnson and George Pickens is talented but inconsistent and prone to some truly bone-headed plays. They are entering a pretty significant period of transition by bringing in Russell Wilson and Justin Fields to replace Kenny Pickett, who lasted all of two seasons after being picked in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The defense is always fine at worst in the Steel City but they need an infusion of talent offensively if either of their new quarterbacks are to succeed.

Aiyuk qualifies. The Steelers are not in the business of giving up first-round picks in trades for anybody, so if the Niners are hoping to get the 20th overall selection, they’ll be out of luck. But if the asking price falls to a Day 2 pick, Pittsburgh should very much be in business, even if they need to create space in order to sign Aiyuk to a market-level extension.

I am once again using my work hours to beg the Patriots to bring in some damn talent at receiver. New England had its eyes set on Calvin Ridley over the first few days of free agency and then just gave up once they missed out. Their pass-catching transactions to date are: re-signing Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, and Jalen Reagor, along with signing K.J. Osborn. There is nothing inherently wrong with retaining your top talent and avoiding overpays on the open market but the Patriots had the worst receiving group in the entire NFL last season and have not made any significant changes. That is unacceptable if the team is at all interested in improving on its 4-13 record.

Aiyuk would definitely qualify as a significant change. The Pats don’t have really any extra draft picks other than their own but are high enough in the draft order that a second or third-rounder from them is way better than from the Steelers or Jaguars. New England also still owns oodles of cap space so the extension would barely be a blip on their spreadsheet. The Patriots need to make this deal if nobody else will step up to the plate.



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