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What Would a Brandon Aiyuk Trade Cost Steelers?

If the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted to acquire 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, what would it cost them?

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Pittsburgh Steelers Brandon Aiyuk
4ers wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel celebrate after a touchdown, Sept. 11, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers have become mired in rumors around landing a big-time wide receiver. And the one that is starting to bubble to the surface is 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Aiyuk is heading into the last year of his rookie contract, and will play on the fifth-year option. But the 49ers have a cap crunch, and with Aiyuk needing an extension, that could be significant.

Matters were not helped when Aiyuk took to X, the app formerly known as Twitter, to fire a message at Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday.

First, there are two layers to this Aiyuk trade. For one, Aiyuk needs a new extension. Second, the Steelers have to be willing to give up the correct amount of compensation to land Aiyuk. The one report out there is that the Jacksonville Jaguars were interested in Aiyuk, and the cost to them would have been giving up the 17th overall pick and wide receiver Zay Jones. I have no clue who exactly the player equivalent for Jones would be on the Steelers, but the first round pick is a must.

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 DK 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.