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Steelers reporter still predicts trade for 49ers receiver

Jun 2, 2024 at 11:53 AM


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The Pittsburgh Steelers were among the teams speculated to be interested in a trade for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk leading up to the NFL Draft. With the draft now well behind us and the Steelers still seeking to upgrade their receiving corps, the rumors have not subsided in Pittsburgh media circles.

Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette remains confident that a trade is imminent for the Steelers.

"I do think, yes, they will have a No. 2 receiver on their roster in September who is not currently on the roster now," Fittipaldo told Joe Starkey on Pittsburgh area radio station 93.7 The Fan on Friday, according to Steelers Depot.

When pressed further about who he felt the Steelers might land in a trade, Fittipaldo mentioned Aiyuk. However, he also named another 49ers receiver as a potential trade option—Deebo Samuel.

"I think Aiyuk or Samuel," Fittipaldo stated. "Given what the 49ers have done, drafting Ricky Pearsall in the first round, signing [Jauan] Jennings. I think there's another shoe to drop out there in San Francisco. They have too many good receivers, and they're not gonna be able to pay all of them."

Unfortunately for Steelers fans, Fittipaldo's logic is flawed. The 49ers are financially capable of retaining their receiver depth—at least for the upcoming season. According to OverTheCap.com's most recent estimates, the team currently has approximately $25.25 million in salary cap space. This amount is expected to increase when they extend Aiyuk's contract, lowering his current $14.124 million cap hit for 2024.

Additionally, the 49ers recently extended wide receiver Jauan Jennings, reducing his 2024 cap hit and securing him through 2025.

San Francisco is likely done with significant acquisitions this offseason and aims to preserve as much cap space as possible in preparation for next year's negotiations to sign quarterback Brock Purdy to a long-term deal. The financial impact of that deal might not even be felt until 2026.

The team can also roll over any of this year's unused salary cap space into 2025, as it did with about $38 million (per multiple reports) from 2023's unused cap space, providing some flexibility this offseason.

"Really, we always look at the cap for three years out," general manager John Lynch said last season. "Obviously, we have all that room this year. But really, it's to create room for future years because we roll everything over. It helps us in future years because it creates some room we're going to need."

While the receiver situation might change next offseason, with the 49ers possibly needing to choose between its top two wideouts, a Steelers trade for Aiyuk or Samuel this offseason might just be wishful thinking on the part of the Pittsburgh area media.
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