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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Rumor: Steelers believe they can acquire 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk at a bargain

Apr 17, 2024 at 2:43 PM

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According to Sports Illustrated contributor Noah Strackbein, who writes for "All Steelers" on the network, there's a level of confidence within the Pittsburgh Steelers organization that they can strike a deal for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk—and at a bargain rate.

"According to a team source, the Steelers and 49ers trade talks are real," Strackbein wrote. "While nothing is imminent, they 'would be surprised if it didn't happen.' But it all comes down to compensation, and Pittsburgh isn't willing to budge much on price."

While it seems unlikely that the 49ers would part ways with Aiyuk for anything less than a first-round draft pick, Strackbein suggests that the Steelers don't believe it will take that much.

He speculates that Aiyuk could be obtained for a second-round draft pick and perhaps a late-round selection. Additionally, assuming the Steelers don't sign Aiyuk to a contract extension, Strackbein suggests that San Francisco might have to absorb some of the $14.124 million the receiver is slated to earn in 2024 on the fifth-year option.

Adding that the two teams are in contact, Strackbein calls the rumored negotiation one that "will likely end with Pittsburgh paying less for the star wideout than his salary is worth for his first season with the team."

The writer states that the Steelers don't need to sign Aiyuk to a contract extension, adding to the implausibility of the report. If the receiver is unhappy with his situation with the 49ers, he would be unlikely to welcome the idea of heading to a new team without some long-term financial assurances.

It also seems unlikely that the 49ers will be willing to pay a significant portion of Aiyuk's salary to have him play on another team.

Strackbein concludes, "It could come down to the wire in the NFL Draft, or it can go afterward. But until Aiyuk signs his name on a new deal in San Francisco, the possibility that he ends up with the Steelers is very real."

If the 49ers trade Aiyuk, it probably won't occur after the draft. Doing so would prevent them from acquiring a replacement who can make an immediate contribution.

The upcoming draft likely presents a pivotal moment in the talks between the player and his team. Most insiders believe that if Aiyuk remains on the roster after the draft, it signals the 49ers' confidence that a contract extension can be agreed upon.

"I would be really surprised if the 49ers don't try to make this thing work with Brandon Aiyuk, that they don't ultimately arrive at a long-term solution for him," 49ers insider Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area recently commented. "But it's going to take a little bit of time. But I think everybody can kind of breathe easy once the first round of the NFL Draft comes and goes and Brandon Aiyuk is still on the team."

Over the past weekend, Aiyuk's agent, Ryan Williams, shot down another sketchy rumor, stating that the receiver had requested a trade.

Aiyuk was San Francisco's leading receiver last season, amassing a career-high 1,342 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. It was his second consecutive season surpassing the 1,000-yard mark.

This week, NFL insider Ian Rapoport acknowledged that some receiver-needy teams have reached out to the 49ers to inquire about Aiyuk's availability.

"To my knowledge, the 49ers have not entertained any of those talks. But until and unless an extension gets done, that is going to persist," Rapoport stated.

Last month, general manager John Lynch denied any serious discussions surrounding trading Aiyuk had taken place, affirming, "I promise you, nothing's going on there."

The Aiyuk trade rumors will only heat up as the 2024 NFL Draft draws near.

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