Why the 49ers aren’t trading WR Deebo Samuel to the Jets or anyone else
Unfortunately, we’ve reached the point in the offseason where outrageous storylines likely get more airtime than they would in a busier part of the NFL schedule. The most recent topic of discussion of this ilk was a report that surfaced on Sunday morning stating that the New York Jets were”keep an eyeon the situations surrounding a few star receivers who are due for new deals.
Among the names mentioned was 49ers superstar Deebo Samuel. ESPN’s Rich Cimini noted that Samuel, AJ Brown and DK Metcalf were the names the Jets were watching closely, as all three start last year on their rookie contracts, and all are likely already committed or will soon enter. negotiations for a big contract. extension with their respective teams.
“The market is exploding, which could make it harder for their teams to re-sign them.” Cimini said, likely referring to the deals Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams recently signed with their new teams. As a result, the Jets are closely watching how negotiations unfold for the aforementioned receivers, as their prices have likely skyrocketed based on how the market has developed for elite talent in that position.
Cimini also noted that New York has a particularly notable interest in Samuel, which makes sense given the ties head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur have with the 49ers organization.
“To say the coaches have an affinity for Samuel would be an understatement. At this point, there’s no indication that any of them are available, but the Jets are monitoring situations, just in case.
So as it stands, there are some good young receivers out there that could come on the market, and the Jets organization is just doing their due diligence should any of them become potentially available. It’s quite logical, isn’t it? Any team with an ounce of common sense and a need for the position would.
The discussion must revolve around the 49ers narrative that San Francisco should explore and possibly pull the trigger on a trade that would send Samuel to New York in exchange for a set of draft picks. I’m going to explain not just why the trade shouldn’t happen, but why it shouldn’t even be a thought they entertain at this point.
For starters, Samuel is one of the top three players on a loaded 49ers roster, and sometimes last year you could argue he topped that list. Samuel is coming off a year that saw him accomplish a feat no other receiver has done in the NFL’s more than 100-year history.
We saw Samuel drag a stagnant offense from the brink of a lost season to a deep playoff run that almost culminated in a trip to the superbowl. The star’s third-year breakout was a historic season that led to a long playoff streak. And the craziest thing is that there’s a good chance we haven’t even seen Samuel hit his peak.
His best football is probably still ahead of him, which would make me believe it makes sense for John Lynch and the front office to ensure he hits that ceiling while wearing a 49ers jersey.
All signs point to the 49ers handing over the keys to Trey Lance as the starting quarterback in 2022. Part of the responsibility that comes with the investment they’ve made in Lance is putting their young caller in the best possible position to to succeed.
Trading a player like Samuel would only serve to make life more difficult for the player you moved mountains on to draft and stake the fate of your franchise.
Listen, there are a million reasons I can point to why Samuel is invaluable to this 49ers team, and most of them are probably things anyone reading this is also acutely aware of. So let’s focus on the recent track record of teams moving superstar players in exchange for draft capital.
These trades rarely work for the team that sends the tried and tested goods in exchange for the roll of the dice that are draft picks. This makes sense given that even the best teams are blessed with a 50% success rate in any given draft.
So when you trade a player like Samuel, you’ve immediately entered a numbers game where you’re at a huge disadvantage. Even if you get a handful of picks — Kansas City got five in exchange for Tyreek Hill — the odds of you turning one of those picks into a player who’s even half as talented or hard-hitting as Samuel are slim to none. null.
Let’s take a look at a few different trades that saw a superstar player get emotional from the team that drafted him as he neared a big payday on his second contract.
The important thing to note with these two specific trades is that all draft picks that were traded have been made. This means that we understand how these transactions played out on both sides, even if they are not yet 100% engraved.
Khalil Mack at Chicago Bears in exchange for four draft picks
The Raiders received:
Chicago’s 2019 first-round pick (Raiders selected running back Josh Jacobs)
2019 Chicago sixth-round pick (pick sent to NYJ via trade)
Chicago’s 2020 first-round pick (Raiders select Damon Arnette)
Chicago 2020 third-round pick (Raiders select Bryan Edwards)
The bears received:
2020 Raiders second-round pick (Bears select Cole Kmet)
2020 Raiders 7th-round pick (Bears select Arlington Hambright)
For starters, I still think the ultimate fleece in this trade was that Chicago somehow tricked the Raiders into spitting out a second-round pick after they had already dispatched a fully pro rusher. Although Josh Jacobs and Bryan Edwards were viable players at the NFL level, neither matched a fraction of the value Mack brought as one of football’s premier defensive players.
Despite Mack’s recent string of injuries, the Bears still got the best end of the trade by a wide margin. The fact that the Raiders didn’t land a top-notch player with one of the picks they won in the trade, coupled with the fact that they spent years trying to replace the rushed pass production that they lost dealing with Mack, makes this trade look as bad as the day it was completed.
One of the most consistent arguments I see from the crowd advocating trading Samuel is the money that is freed up by dealing a player who is supposed to represent a large number of the cap. The Raiders did when they moved Mack, and you know what that abundance of headroom got them in return?
Tyrell Williams and Antonio Brown are two receivers who have never come close to walking even a fraction of the impact Mack has had on this Raiders team. The thing is, while not every team is going to feel the reallocation of that cap space, it’s far too much of a roll of the dice to risk moving one of your best players to reach.
Here is another trade that is a good point of reference. Jacksonville distributes cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick. Here’s what the trade looked like.
2020 first-round pick (Jaguars select K’Lavon Chaisson)
2021 first-round pick (Jaguars select Travis Etienne)
2021 fourth-round pick (Jaguars select Jordan Smith)
Los Angeles gets:
The Rams have a player who just helped them win the Super Bowl, while the Jaguars turned three picks into a sum of parts that had no real impact on the field for various reasons.
Ramsey has made several professional bowls as well as an All-Pro team since being in Los Angeles, while Chaisson and Smith have been unable to find a consistent role on the court, let alone be game-changing players.
The jury is still out on Etienne, who suffered a foot injury during pre-season last year and therefore missed his entire rookie campaign. I’ll wait for the final judgement, but based on position value alone, I’m pretty confident that whatever happens with Etienne, it won’t tip the scales in favor of the Jaguars when you look at who came out on top. with this trade.
There are also a handful of other examples to cite, such as the trades we’ve seen for Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, and Amari Cooper. None of the teams that handed out these players came close to filling the void left by these superstars.
So to put a bow on that, of course, having an abundance of draft picks and cap space sounds appealing. But at the end of the day, your goal when you have those resources is to pool them together in hopes of finding a talent like Samuel.
The 49ers have already done the hardest part. They scouted, drafted and helped develop one of the most electric players in the league. Now comes the easy part. Pay the man and continue to build your roster with the comfort of knowing you have a fundamental at one of the most critical positions in the sport.