In what’s arguably been one of the busiest and most intriguing offseasons in NFL history, nothing has been more shocking than the number of wide receivers who’ve changed teams because of contract disputes.
While the Tennessee Titans most recently traded their star wideout A.J. Brown, the Niners are adamant that they’re not moving their star Deebo Samuel despite his requests to be moved.
With the wide receiver market at an all-time salary high, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to satisfy these elite pass-catchers. But Niners GM John Lynch isn’t playing into the drama and says he expects Samuel to remain on the team’s roster through the 2022 season.
That means Samuel will be used like one of the best players in the sport but will be paid according to the final year of his rookie deal. Best-case scenario is that the two sides come to agreement on an extension. Samuel isn’t going anywhere right now.
Lynch went into a little more detail during a recent radio interview.
“It’s a yes for me, and that’s our job,” Lynch said when asked if Samuel will remain in San Francisco via @knbr. “He’s too good of a player. We’ve got too good of a thing going and we want to keep that going. That’s where I’ll leave that.”
Lynch says the team and Deebo are making strong efforts to resolve the issues that led to the star wideout’s trade request.
“We’re trying really hard with Deebo to work through whatever the issues might be. I always have really believed that there is a sacredness to those conversations and that they remain private, especially with things like this. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest we don’t get into that. I don’t think [the obstacles] are insurmountable. I think we can find a way to resolution, and we’re hopeful for that because we know what he’s been to this organization. Thirty-sixth pick in 2019, and he’s been so good on and off the field. Obviously, a tremendous player. He makes us better. I think we make him better. And we’re hopeful that we get everything right and that we’re rolling forward.”
Samuel’s Trade Request Isn’t All Money-Related
Samuel accounted for 1,770 yards from scrimmage (1405 receiving and 365 rushing) in 2021. He also touched paydirt 14 times, six via the pass and eight courtesy of rushing the football.
His eight rushing touchdowns are the most ever in a single season by a wide receiver, breaking a 60-year record held by Lenny Moore of the Baltimore Colts. Six of Samuel’s rushing touchdowns were from 10 yards or more. Samuel is also already second all-time in rushing touchdowns by a receiver with 11, only two behind the aforementioned Moore.
Samuel let it be known he isn’t a fan of running the football so much due to the wear and tear the position puts on players. He feels that the role he is currently in jeopardizes his career longevity.
Samuel is also very cognizant of how he could be portrayed in contract negotiations. Receivers make a lot more than running backs, and he doesn’t want to be coined a “wideback,” a position being floated around because of his success.
And if he is succeeding at two positions then he needs to get paid for doing twice the work, not lose money because he happens to be versatile enough to also play running back.
Samuel has even dealt with fans harassing him and sending racial slurs to his DMs over his stance with the team.
Jaguars Christian Kirk Deal Created An Uptick In WR Demands
Another reason for Samuel wanting a new deal is seeing the Jaguars shell out $72 million over four years to obtain former Cardinals wideout Christian Kirk, who has never even had a 1,000-yard receiving season. That deal caused an uproar in the wide receiver and elite cover corner fraternity.
Kirk’s deal played a role in star receivers like Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and most recently the aforementioned A.J. Brown being traded to new teams where they signed new lucrative long-term extensions. It also helped receivers such as Stefon Diggs cash in with their current teams.
Samuel, along with Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin and Seattle Seahawks D.K. Metcalf all were a part of the 2019 draft class. As each heads into the final year of their rookie deals, questions linger about their long-term prognosis with their current teams.
Samuel, 26, is entering the final year of his 4-year/$7.247 million rookie contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. He is seeking a lucrative extension in the $25 million per year range before the 2022 season begins. The Niners should have no problem giving it to him