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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Garafolo: 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk ‘not close’ in contract talks but no need to panic

Mar 29, 2024 at 7:09 PM--

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Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports that the San Francisco 49ers and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk are "not close" in their negotiations for a contract extension. This news shouldn't come as a surprise, considering the discussions have only recently begun. At the NFL owners meetings this week, general manager John Lynch stated that the 49ers are actively negotiating with Aiyuk's representatives.

"There's a number of different directions that it could go, but we appreciate the heck out of Brandon and who he is as a player," Lynch said. "We want him to be a part of the Niners, so we're going to work towards making that a reality."

The gap between the two sides is expected. The 49ers typically finalize these types of significant extensions closer to training camp. Last year, defensive end Nick Bosa's deal wasn't completed until just days before the start of the regular season.

Speaking on NFL Total Access, Garafolo shared his insights into the negotiations.

"Where are we? Well, we're not close," Garafolo shared. "And they have made a recent run at it, from my understanding. It's not like they haven't had any discussions. They have had preliminary discussions. You saw John Lynch say that Brandon Aiyuk could play in the fifth-year option and play out his deal. They're comfortable with that.

"Then you've got Aiyuk doing the little finger thing (with emojis on Instagram) saying, 'Hey, I could walk.' Basically, it's a little bit of a standoff right now. Now look, this is not where the Deebo Samuel thing was [two years ago]. And as bad as that got with Samuel basically requesting a trade, they were still able to salvage that.

"So let's not panic here. Let's not freak out. And maybe if it gets to the point where there's some offseason workouts and OTAs and Brandon Aiyuk does a little finger emoji saying, 'Yeah, I'm going to be walking the other way instead of going to those voluntary workouts.'"

Aiyuk was the 49ers' leading receiver last season, racking up 1,342 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Only six players earned more receiving yards during the 2023 season.

"But he does love the 49ers, from my understanding, and he knows this is a team that is taking care of their guys when it's their turn, and there's no reason he feels like he shouldn't be next," Garafolo continued. "He believes he's one of the top wide receivers in the league, so he expects to be paid in that realm. And the 49ers are not quite there at this point. So I think we've got some time before this one gets settled either way.

"But I know that the 49ers would like to eventually get Brandon Aiyuk under an extended contract and I know that he would love to be there under the right price. So let's see if they can both get to the point where they agree on something."

The fifth-year option will pay Aiyuk $14.124 million this year. Obviously, his camp seeks to make him among the highest-paid receivers in the NFL. There are currently six wide receivers earning an average of $24 million or more. Aiyuk's teammate, Deebo Samuel, just missed that club, earning an average of $23.85 million annually.

Speaking on "The Nightcap" podcast with former NFL players Shannon Sharpe and Chad Ochocinco this week, Aiyuk said, "I'm trying to get what I deserve. I feel like this season, this season playing football, I figured out who I was as a person and a player — what I bring to the table, what I bring to the locker room, what I bring to the organization. ... We got professionals working on both sides, so hopefully, we can come to a professional agreement to continue playing professional football."
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