NFL Trade Rumors: San Francisco 49ers Intend to Keep Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk

The San Francisco 49ers aren't ready to break up the band quite yet. According to the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the 49ers recently had a productive meeting with disgruntled wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and want the young star "to be a part of the team in 2024."

Aiyuk has been the subject of trade rumors dating all the way back to before the 2024 NFL Draft. Drafted with the 25th overall pick in 2020, Aiyuk is entering the fifth-year option of his rookie contract and is set to earn $14.124 million for the 2024 season. Naturally, he's looking for a new deal and the first big-money contract of his young career.

He's earned it. Aiyuk was one of the league's most explosive and efficient pass catchers last season, totalling 1342 receiving yards and seven touchdowns at a preposterous 12.8 yards per target. He's no one-year wonder, either: 49ers quarterbacks have averaged a 119.8 passer rating on throws in his direction since 2020.

Still, negotiating a contract has clearly proven tricky for the 49ers. They already have massive deals in place for wide receiver Deebo Samuel ($23.85M per year), left tackle Trent Williams ($23.01M per year), running back Christian McCaffrey ($19M per year), and tight end George Kittle ($15M per year). Quarterback Brock Purdy will also be extension-eligible following the 2024 season. 

Mending fences with Aiyuk is certainly in the 49ers' best interest, but there's a case to be made they've bungled his contract situation. Given recent surges in the wide receiver market, Aiyuk probably now expects something in the neighborhood of $30 million per year. Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, and Amon-Ra St. Brown have all signed deals north of that this offseason. Aiyuk hasn't quite matched their resumes so far in his career, but he's only 26 years old, and his production and efficiency aren't far behind those three superstars.

Aiyuk has been extension-eligible since 2023, and the 49ers clearly whiffed on any opportunity to sign him at a bargain rate. If they truly intend to commit to him long-term, a deal should have been done long ago. At this point, it may take a corresponding transaction to fit Aiyuk under the salary cap. If the 49ers end up doing business with Aiyuk, it could mean one of their other high-priced veterans suddenly becomes available via trade.

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