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This aspect of 49ers’ negotiations left Brandon Aiyuk feeling disrespected

Jul 3, 2024 at 2:54 PM

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You've probably already watched San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk's conversation on "The Pivot" podcast last week. If not, it is embedded below this article. While I was on vacation, I kept up with the news that surfaced from that 55-minute interview.

Aiyuk is clearly unhappy with how his negotiations for a long-term deal have progressed. The receiver wants to stay with the 49ers, the team that made him a first-round draft pick in 2020. However, the two sides can't agree on how much the star player should earn.

Several factors are at play. San Francisco was reportedly close to a deal with Aiyuk before the wide receiver market exploded. The 49ers also have to consider the future, as quarterback Brock Purdy will become the team's highest-paid player next year, significantly impacting salary cap flexibility. Of course, none of that concerns Aiyuk's camp—nor should it—as he works to get what he deserves.

One particularly frustrating aspect of these negotiations for Aiyuk has been the lack of confidentiality. During the podcast conversation, he mentioned his efforts to keep discussions private. However, when details of the negotiations became public, Aiyuk felt that the 49ers were not equally committed to doing the same.

Last month, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Michael Silver revealed that the 49ers' latest offer would pay Aiyuk an average $26 million annually. While significantly more than the $14.124 million the receiver is due to earn in 2024 on the fifth-year option, that amount is less than his perceived market value.

How does Aiyuk feel about information like that becoming public?

"It's a little bit frustrating, especially when we're getting down to details like that," Aiyuk admitted. "We're putting down exact numbers in negotiation, where that's talks between the team and my team, and we're trying to work through a lot of things. So, for actual numbers and actual stuff like that to come out, I felt it was a little bit disrespectful, a little bit unfair to me. But that's part of it. It is what it is. It's a dirty game."

Last month, Aiyuk posted a video of himself speaking to former college teammate and current Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels, telling him, "They said they don't want me back ... I swear."

Aiyuk revealed what prompted him to declare that.

RELATED Brandon Aiyuk reveals what 49ers told him during contract talks

"They told me that they didn't think that we were on the same page and that they didn't believe that we were going to," Aiyuk stated. "And that was about it at that time. But it's part of it. It's part of the contract negotiations, trying to sway stuff in either direction. So whether that's 100 percent true or not, I guess that's still to find out."

Aiyuk is well aware of how these types of negotiations play out. Two years ago, his teammate and friend, Deebo Samuel, experienced a similar situation. While Samuel's negotiations involved more drama and ultimately led to a trade request, Aiyuk's dealings with the 49ers have yet to escalate to that level.

"So I just feel like, for me, social media is a way for myself to leverage, me and my team to leverage myself, and to leverage what I'm trying to get because that's the way to get the message out there. That's the way to get the facts out there. And the facts are the facts."

Unfortunately for Aiyuk, the 49ers hold significantly more leverage in these negotiations. The receiver is under contract for the upcoming season, and the team can choose to use the franchise tag on him in 2025 and 2026. Under this scenario, Aiyuk would average approximately $23 million annually over the next three seasons, less than the amount the 49ers have reportedly already offered.

There is still time to finalize a deal before training camp. Aiyuk and the veteran players are required to report on July 23, allowing the receiver an opportunity to persuade the 49ers to reconsider their current stance and potentially reach an agreement that satisfies both parties.

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