Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Bleacher Report: 49ers probably regret not extending Deebo Samuel earlier

Jun 20, 2022 at 2:22 PM--

Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox recently listed one offseason regret for each NFL team (h/t Niners Noise). That regret for the Kansas City Chiefs was letting Charvarius Ward depart. In March, the cornerback signed a three-year, $40.5 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers, forcing the Chiefs to use a first-round pick on Trent McDuffie.

What about the regret for the 49ers, though? Is it the complicated situation with Jimmy Garoppolo, the veteran quarterback they would love to trade but can't? Is it not directly shooting down all the offseason chatter of concerns over Garoppolo's successor, Trey Lance, not being ready to take over? It's neither, actually.

Knox feels the 49ers' biggest offseason regret is not signing wide receiver Deebo Samuel to a contract extension sooner. Earlier this offseason, their star player watched as the wide receiver market exploded and his peers signed mega-deals for far more than anyone expected. While that increased Samuel's value, there seemed to be a lack of urgency on San Francisco's part to get a deal done and make the wideout happy.

Then Samuel requested to be traded, and the offseason drama meter went off the charts.

"San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel wasn't at OTAs, though he did attend mandatory minicamp," Knox wrote. "The Pro Bowler is angling for a new contract, but his minicamp return seems to indicate that he won't hold out into the regular season."

While Samuel was in attendance during the mandatory minicamp that concluded the 49ers' offseason program, he did not participate. No one seemed overly concerned, though, and the 49ers still seem relatively confident that a deal will get done.

The 49ers typically get extensions done in late July or early August. However, general manager John Lynch may have saved his team significant money by veering from his regular routine.

"Still, San Francisco likely wishes it had inked Samuel to an extension at the start of the offseason, as new deals for Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown and Cooper Kupp have reset the receiver market," Knox wrote. "Brown is the least expensive of the four, and he's set to earn $25 million annually on his new deal. That's likely now the floor for Samuel, though there's a bit of a caveat for the 49ers."

Knox notes comments from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. In April, he stated that Samuel might be concerned about how he was used last season—as a wide receiver and running back hybrid. Of course, the complication is that the dual-threat role helped increase Samuel's value.

"The 49ers may not want to pay him top-of-the-market money to be a receiver only," Knox wrote. "If they're going to keep him, though, they may no longer have a choice. Had the 49ers locked up Samuel before free agency, a deal in the $20-million-per-year range might have been feasible. Now that Hill is getting $30 million per year—and the far less proven Christian Kirk is getting $18 million annually—San Francisco likely has no chance of keeping Samuel on a team-friendly contract."
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