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ESPN Analyst Thinks Steelers Trading for Brandon Aiyuk Would Be Foolish

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Pittsburgh Steelers San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

On Monday, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk stated in a video call with Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels that the 49ers “said they don’t want me back.” This revelation sparked continued speculation that the Pittsburgh Steelers could be a potential trade candidate.

The Aiyuk saga has been going on for months, but the 49ers are hell-bent on not trading their star wide receiver.

Aiyuk would significantly improve the Steelers’ wide receiver corps if a trade came to fruition, but it would come at a deep price. Aiyuk reportedly wants $30 million a year, and it would require a ton of draft capital to even acquire him.

That’s why Seth Walder of ESPN thinks a Steelers trade for Aiyuk would be foolish. He doesn’t think they’re a player away from competing for a Super Bowl. If that was the case, he might think differently.

“If you’re going to bring him in like in a vacuum, I endorse it,” Walder said during an appearance on the Chipped Ham & Football Podcast with Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Now to trade draft capital for the right to pay someone, I think is usually a mistake. And so, if you said to me, would you if you were the Steelers right now and you were to give a future (first-round pick) for the right to pay Aiyuk a market-value deal, I would not do that. You’re still not a Super Bowl contender with Brandon Aiyuk in 2024. I don’t think it makes sense for Pittsburgh in this spot.”

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Trade Target San Francisco 49ers Brandon Aiyuk

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk during the Washington Football Team at San Francisco 49ers at State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona, December 13, 2020. — All-Pro Reels Photography

Pairing Aiyuk with George Pickens would be intriguing, but I don’t know if general manager Omar Khan would be willing to make that move given Aiyuk’s pay requests. Khan has made un-Steeler-like moves recently, however.

Khan said last week that he’s encouraged by the trajectory of the wide receiver room.

“We just finished minicamp and I was talking to Coach T and a couple of the other guys in my department, and we were just saying how good we felt about that room,” Khan said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “Just the growth from when the offseason program started to where we are now. Even the improvements from the start of OTAs to now has really been awesome to see.

“We like the group. We really, really do. And they’re working hard. This was an important OTA and minicamp for us. Got a lot of new faces on offense and just seeing how they jell together, how they worked, and I can just tell you, it’s trending really positively. It was awesome.”