April 12, 2022
BY Lance Cartelli

Should the San Francisco 49ers Trade Deebo Samuel?

It’s been a wild offseason for elite wide receivers. 

Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Amari Cooper — arguably three of the premier pass-catchers in the NFL — have already been dealt and more trades could be on the way. 

There are rumors that the Seattle Seahawks could make D.K. Metcalf available for trade while the San Francisco 49ers seem to be in a contract quandary with All-Pro “wide back” Deebo Samuel

The Niners have proven that they are willing to pay top-of-the-market value for their cornerstone players, such as George Kittle, Fred Warner, and, at the time, Jimmy Garoppolo, sure, but they’ve also been known to be tough negotiators who will not surpass a certain value no matter how good that player is. (See: DeForest Buckner). 

After the haul that the Packers and Chiefs received for their star receivers, could the Niners be eyeing an exit for their best player on offense? 

Below, we’ve broken down why the 49ers should trade Samuel.

The Massive Contract

This might seem crazy, but there are a plethora of reasons why the Niners would actually be smart to move Samuel. 

Samuel will want to either match or eclipse the deals that Hill and Adams received after being shipped out of town. That would put Deebo’s yearly average in the $25 million-plus range, which I think the Niners would be fine paying. The problem is the guaranteed money. Hill got a jaw-dropping $72.2 million guaranteed and the Niners will almost assuredly not even come close to that amount. 

If both sides aren’t willing to cave on the guaranteed money then they could be in a contract stalemate for the foreseeable future.

Samuel’s Resumé

Then there’s the combination of Samuel’s injury history and one year of elite production. 

Deebo is unlike any receiver in the league. He’s built like a running back, which is why he’s such a unique weapon and so hard for players to tackle. But that also means he weighs more and that adds more force to his lower body. He’s already suffered soft-tissue injuries and a broken foot. With his style of play, Samuel is always going to be at risk for injury and that won’t change as he gets older. 

Samuel was healthy this season and clearly flourished, but this is his first season with elite production. It’s much easier for teams to pay top dollar to guys like Adams, Hill and Stefon Diggs because they’ve proven it over multiple seasons.   

The 49ers Still Have to Pay Nick Bosa, Among Others

Sitting at just $1.6 million in available cap space, the Niners currently have the least amount available in the league — and they still have to pay some of their up-and-coming players such as Nick Bosa

The 49ers can easily clear cap space by restructuring some players or finally getting rid of Jimmy Garoppolo, they will need that space to be Bosa, who recently signed a deal that pays him $28 million per season. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bosa shoots for $30 million per year. 

With the salary cap set to explode in the coming seasons, along with the Niners eventually getting Jimmy G off the books, they still need to budget for Bosa’s eventual raise and, if things go well, they’ll have to pay Trey Lance a ridiculous amount of money in the next couple of years. 

The Niners might think they can get by with Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and a rookie receiver.

49ers Can Restock Their Draft Capital 

After trading multiple first-rounders to move up for Trey Lance prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, the Niners’ draft coffers are basically bare. Sure, they have nine picks in this year’s draft, but their first selection isn’t until No. 61 in the late second round. 

If the Niners can get multiple premium picks over the next couple of years, they can get younger while developing cost-controlled rookies. 

If, say, the Jets come calling and offer Nos. 10 and 38, the 49ers would not only be able to select a pass rusher to pair with Bosa but they could also shore up their barren offensive line or find the “next” Samuel … if that’s possible. 

Of course, those picks could backfire like the DeForest Buckner trade did, which makes dealing Deebo a huge risk. But other smart franchises have shown that paying more than $25 million per season for a receiver isn’t quite worth it.  

Samuel is such a key piece to the 49ers' success, so it’ll fascinating to see whether they give in to Deebo’s demands or if they trade him for multiple picks.

Photo: Getty Images