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Brandon Aiyuk Trade Could Go Down at the Draft

The Brandon Aiyuk trade could go down during the NFL Draft, much like others have gone down in the past.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Brandon Aiyuk
49ers wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel celebrate after a touchdown, Sept. 11, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

If the San Francisco 49ers trade star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, it most likely will occur before or during the draft in late April, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic.

“Yes, that’s my sense. Just go back two years to when Deebo Samuel was agitating for a trade. The 49ers kept their phone lines open before, and especially during, the draft to see what kind of offers Samuel would bring. They got draft-day proposals from the New York Jets and Detroit Lions, but the 49ers didn’t budge. They were solid offers (especially the Jets’) but the 49ers needed to be blown away to let go of Samuel, who was coming off his incredible 2021 campaign.

“I think a similar scenario is in play for Aiyuk, who has excellent chemistry with Brock Purdy: The 49ers will listen to offers but it will take something monumental to let him go,” Barrows wrote.

Aiyuk sparked speculation on Tuesday when he sent a message to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on X, stating “@CoachTomlin they saying we twins. What you think?”

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks the Steelers could be in on Aiyuk, but the draft capital that they’ll have to give up would be enormous. The Steelers would also have to pay the highly touted receiver a hefty salary.

“They should, though it might cost too much money,” Dulac wrote in a recent online chat when asked if the Steelers are interested in Aiyuk.

Dulac added in a separate question about Aiyuk, “Oh there’s a chance. But it’s a lot to give up, especially when you have George Pickens.”

The Steelers are in dire need of a wide receiver, and Aiyuk certainly would be a fit. But the draft capital to acquire Aiyuk is expected to be astronomical. According to Jacksonville reporter Mia O’Brien, the 49ers wanted the Jaguars’ No. 17 overall pick and wide receiver Zay Jones. The Jaguars would also have to pay Aiyuk his $14.124 million that he’s owed by San Francisco in 2024, as well. Jacksonville thought that trade package was unreasonable and scrapped the deal.

The most recent example of a top flight receiver being dealt in a similar situation was A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles. They parted with their first round pick as well as their later third round pick, the No, 101 overall pick in that year’s class. So, using that parameter, you could cook up a theory that maybe 20th overall and 98th overall could do it. But the 49ers could want more than that, especially because there has to be a clear desire to keep Aiyuk.

Then, there is the whole idea on what Aiyuk would actually command in a new contract. The Steelers would not just be giving up draft capital, but would be moving money, too. Aiyuk will want a new deal wherever he goes next. The immediate evaluation on Spotrac is $24 million, putting Aiyuk in line with D.K. Metcalf and Stefon Diggs. But it would not be surprising if Aiyuk peaked even higher than that.