Connect with us

NFL Rumors

Could New England Land San Francisco’s Brandon Aiyuk?



San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) catches a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 28-14. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

New England attempted to sign free agent wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the opening week of NFL free agency. Ridley ended up joining the Tennessee Titans on a four-year, $92 million contract ($50 million guaranteed). Although the Patriots did not land their target it showed they were in the market at least.  While some reports indicate New England will turn their attention to the NFL Draft to address the position, the option of acquiring Brandon Aiyuk could change that narrative.

Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team suggested on Tuesday that the San Francisco 49ers might be forced to trade Brandon Aiyuk due to salary concerns. Aiyuk is entering the final year of his contract and San Francisco already has several high-salaried players on the roster. Meirov also notes this has happened to the 49ers previously.

In 2020, San Francisco sent defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis for a first-round pick (No. 13 overall). They used that pick, after trading down one spot, to acquire Buckner’s more affordable replacement in Javon Kinlaw. They could be looking to do the same with Brandon Aiyuk in 2024.

If Aiyuk is on the move, would the New England Patriots be a potential landing spot?

Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk is entering his fifth NFL season. San Francisco selected him in the first round (No. 25) in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has been excellent for the 49ers but over the past two seasons, he made the jump from very good to great. He is coming off of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for San Francisco.

In 2022, Aiyuk caught 78 passes for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns. Last season he registered 75 receptions for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns. He is one of ten wide receivers with 150 receptions, 2,000 yards, and 15 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

Pro Football Focus graded Brandon Aiyuk as the second-best wide receiver in the NFL in 2023. His grade of 91.5 trailed only Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins. He was voted to the second-team All-Pro team despite being a Pro Bowl snub. Any team trading for him is obtaining an elite talent.

Trade Options

As is the case with the Cincinnati Bengals’ Tee Higgins, trading for Aiyuk involves two parts. The team trading for him needs to give up trade capital and then also pay him. While Brandon Aiyuk is both younger and more productive than Calvin Ridley, signing Ridley would have only cost the Patriots money. Obtaining Aiyuk will cost draft capital as well as giving him a lucrative contract extension.

San Francisco wants a first-round pick for their star receiver. One report had the Jacksonville Jaguars offering No. 17 and wide receiver Zay Jones. The Pittsburgh Steelers are another rumored destination. Pittsburgh owns the No. 20 selection and would likely have to part with another pick (No. 98) as well.

Could the New England Patriots figure out a way to match those offers? Would they want to?

While No. 34 and a Day 3 pick might be enough to obtain Higgins, it would not seal the deal for Aiyuk. And that is before paying him over $25 million a year. Perhaps well over that figure.

Despite Brandon Aiyuk being an attractive option who would instantly improve the New England Patriots offense, the combined cost of acquiring and signing him makes it an unlikely match.