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What would it cost the 49ers to keep Brandon Aiyuk without a new deal?

Jun 10, 2024 at 10:23 AM


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There are several ways the situation between the San Francisco 49ers and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk might play out, some more likely than others. The best scenario for both sides would be agreeing on a mutually beneficial contract extension, allowing the receiver to focus on the upcoming season and the 49ers' pursuit of Super Bowl glory.

Another option would be for Aiyuk to forgo a new deal and play the 2024 season on the fifth-year option, guaranteeing him $14.124 million, significantly less than his market value. Then, the two sides could reassess their situations next offseason.

A less desirable option would be Aiyuk sitting out the 2024 season or requesting a trade. While sitting out the season in its entirety might initially sound like a wrong move for the receiver, it would also be a poor outcome for the 49ers, who believe Aiyuk is a crucial part of their Super Bowl aspirations. Aiyuk likely knows this and could pressure the team by threatening not to play.

Aiyuk would also risk failing to accrue a credited NFL season if he missed too much time, which means he may find himself in the same scenario next season with the fifth-year option rolling over into 2025 because he sat out too long.

Playing out his fifth-year option might not get him much closer to free agency either, if that is what Aiyuk seeks. San Francisco can utilize the franchise tag on the receiver in 2025, which is estimated to cost about $24.76 million, according to OverTheCap.com. Then, the 49ers can use the franchise tag again in 2026 at the cost of a 120% pay raise, which might be about $29.71 million. It would effectively keep the wideout under contract through 2026.

Somewhere along the way in that scenario, the 49ers can decide to pay Aiyuk or trade him before the 2025 or 2026 NFL Draft to a team willing to pay the receiver's asking price.

Last week, Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle reported what the 49ers' last offer to Aiyuk's camp might have been.

"I'm hearing maybe their offer's in the $26 million range, which, you know, it's certainly not Justin Jefferson money, nor should it be, but it's closer to that DeVonta Smith, Amon-Ra St. Brown, that next tier down," Silver said during a radio interview.

While $26 million annually might sit below what Aiyuk feels is his value, assuming the 49ers don't try to trade the receiver over the next couple of years, it is a better option than playing through the fifth-year option and potentially two franchise tags. Aiyuk would average approximately $22.9 million annually over the next three seasons under that scenario, even further below market value.

It wasn't long ago that general manager John Lynch expressed confidence that the 49ers would get a deal with Aiyuk done. However, since then, the wide receiver market has continued to explode, with Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings recently becoming the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history. San Francisco would have benefitted from getting a deal with Aiyuk done earlier.

In April, Lynch stated, "I've communicated on a couple of occasions, on many occasions, our wish. And our wish is that he's here and a part of the Niners for the rest of his career. We're working through that."

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