NFL insider claims 49ers star Brandon Aiyuk as good as gone if he hits free agency

An NFL insider believes it is almost impossible for the San Francisco 49ers to hold on to Brandon Aiyuk — besides a franchise tag.

For the early part of his career, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk served as the sidekick to Deebo Samuel as the star receiver grew into one of the best pass catchers in the league. However, things have changed a great deal over the last couple of years.

In 2022 and 2023, Aiyuk has evolved into a major impact player and this past season unofficially became the 49ers’ new No. 1 receiver as he racked up 1,342 yards on just 75 catches.

However, his rise has caused a problem for the team because an organization can’t pay a pair of receivers superstar money and they already gave Samuel a massive deal before the 2023 season.

That is why there has been speculation for months that the team could trade Aiyuk before he hits free agency or becomes disgruntled under a franchise tag in 2025. However, some San Francisco fans hope the team can find a way to hold on to him with a long-term deal.

Well, Bleacher Report NFL insider Jordan Schultz poured cold water on that idea on Thursday when he explained why the 25-year-old’s value has skyrocketed and how there is almost no way the team will be able to meet his eventual asking price.

“I think if [head cacoh] Kyle Shanahan could do it all over again, he would have used him more in the Super Bowl. I think he only had four targets in that game. He wasn’t used enough,” Schultz said.

“The metrics told us when Brandon Aiyuk was targeted substantially throughout the season, the offense was a lot better and more efficient. And I really think he has emerged as legit No.1.

“I’m just not convinced, considering how well he’s played and how much he’s emerged as a bonafide No. 1 receiver, I’m not convinced at this point San Francisco is going to be able to pay Brandon Aiyuk the type of money that he’s going to command,” he continued.

“Because if he hits the market, he is going to be one of the most coveted free agents period. Not just wide receivers.”

The 49ers could find a way out of other contracts, but that comes with its own salary-related penalties.

Furthermore, they will eventually have to pay starting quarterback Brock Purdy in a few years. Suffice it to say, the San Francisco 49ers are in a tough spot with Aiyuk eligible for free agency next year.

The franchise tag for wide receivers in 2024 is going to be just over $20 million and Aiyuk will likely get more than that in free agency. He has one year at over $14 million left on his deal.



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