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Obstacles Could Prevent Brandon Aiyuk Trade for Steelers

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Pittsburgh Steelers Brandon Aiyuk

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon 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.

Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus believes that Aiyuk could cost over $30 million, which would usurp Tyreek Hill as the highest paid receiver in the NFL. The middle ground might be the answer here, which is around $27 million. That would make him the third highest paid receiver in the league.

Either way, Aiyuk is a top ten receiver in the league and would obviously be a huge boost to the Steelers offense alongside George Pickens. But if they want to make it happen, it is not going to be cheap, not by a longshot. And that is both on the draft capital side of things and a potential contract that Aiyuk will be asking for if they do acquire him.