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Stefon Diggs trade sparks speculation about 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk’s future

Apr 3, 2024 at 5:09 PM

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On Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills made headlines with a blockbuster trade that sent wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans. Diggs has been highly productive throughout his lengthy career, surpassing 1,000 receiving yards in six consecutive seasons.

Although Diggs' 2023 campaign was his least productive since 2019, the veteran receiver still amassed 1,183 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last season. The Bills received a 2025 second-round draft pick in exchange for Diggs while shipping a 2024 sixth-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick to the Texans.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers are negotiating a contract extension for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. While general manager John Lynch has asserted that the team has no intention of trading their star receiver, there have been reports linking the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers as interested parties. Lynch labeled those reports as false.

The Diggs trade has sparked speculation about Aiyuk's future. Mike Santa Barbara of Yardbarker listed Aiyuk among the next receivers who could find themselves on another roster this offseason. He notes the report from NFL Network's Mike Garafolo that the 49ers and Aiyuk are "not close" in their negotiations.

"Aiyuk and the Niners seemingly want the same result, but getting there is easier said than done, especially since the team already has three players making north of $20 million with quarterback Brock Purdy's payday looming," Santa Barbara wrote.

Cory Woodroof of For the Win listed Aiyuk among the receivers who could be traded before or during the 2024 NFL Draft.

"Aiyuk has been a stellar part of the 49ers offense since being drafted, but he's due a contract extension and San Francisco might not be willing to pay it with money so tight within the franchise," Woodroof wrote. "It's possible that these two sides work out a deal, but it feels just as possible that the 49ers trade him for a first-round draft pick to a team that misses out on one of the draft's top receivers."

Of course, it's important to note that the Diggs trade might not offer a direct comparison for Aiyuk's potential value. While Diggs is 30 years old, Aiyuk just turned 26, and his rising talent makes him an attractive asset. Aiyuk has exceeded 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons, including a career-high and team-high 1,342 yards in 2023.

Aiyuk possesses all the qualities teams desire, suggesting that the 49ers could potentially receive much more in return than what the Texans offered for Diggs. The earlier report regarding the Jaguars' interest stated the 49ers sought the No. 17 overall pick and a player in exchange for Aiyuk. Again, Lynch denied any discussions with other teams have taken place.

One unnamed NFL executive recently told Mike Sando of The Athletic that Aiyuk was crucial to the 49ers' future success but believes the upcoming draft may influence the offseason negotiations with the receiver.

"Aiyuk is so integral to what they do, more so than Deebo Samuel is, that I'd try to get something done with him before Justin Jefferson and these other receivers get deals and the price goes up," the executive explained. "Because this is a deep receiver draft, they may try to do it in reverse. If there is something they can get done from a draft standpoint, then it could be moving Aiyuk or knowing their feet are to the fire and they have to extend him."

The 49ers hold some leverage in negotiations as Aiyuk is currently under contract through the 2024 season, set to play on a team-executed fifth-year option that will earn him $14.124 million. Additionally, they can utilize the franchise tag in 2025 and 2026, potentially keeping him under contract for the next three seasons.

Ideally, the goal is to make Aiyuk happy, securing the receiver to a long-term commitment and ensuring the chemistry he has developed with quarterback Brock Purdy continues to grow.

"I mean, it's hard to be successful at quarterback if you don't have real good receivers," head coach Kyle Shanahan recently stated. "So it starts there with Brandon, and I think that's real big for Brock in his future, making sure we got a good group for him going forward."
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