SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — All-Pro receiver Deebo Samuel told ESPN on Wednesday that he has requested a trade from the San Francisco 49ers as the two sides have been unable to negotiate a long-term deal for one of the league’s top playmakers.
Samuel is entering the final year of the rookie deal he signed after being drafted in the second round in 2019 and is looking to take advantage of the exploding market of receiver contracts.
Samuel is set to be paid nearly $4 million this season after being a first-team All-Pro in 2021. Eight receivers have gotten new contracts this offseason worth at least $18 million a year, including Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams after trades from their old teams.
If the Niners give in to Samuel’s demand he would be the latest star receiver to switch teams this offseason. Green Bay got a first and second-round pick from the Raiders for Adams, while Kansas City got a first, a second and three lower-round picks from Miami for Hill.
Samuel didn’t give a reason to ESPN for his demand and the Niners and his agent didn’t immediately comment on the request.
The NFL draft starts next Thursday and San Francisco could look to add a first-round pick after trading theirs away last season to move up for quarterback Trey Lance.
San Francisco traded away a star player instead of paying him a big contract in the 2020 offseason when the Niners dealt defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis for a first-round pick.
The 49ers used that pick to take Javon Kinlaw, who has struggled with injuries his first two seasons and has not made up for Buckner’s absence.
Replacing Samuel could be even more challenging after he emerged as a star in 2021 with the unique ability to thrive as both a running back and a receiver in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Samuel finished the season with 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 14 TDs. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is the only Niners receiver ever to gain more yards from scrimmage in a season than Samuel did last year.
Samuel had 77 catches for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns, leading the NFL with 18.2 yards per reception. He added 59 carries for 365 yards and eight TDs as he was used out of the backfield frequently in the second half of the season.
Samuel never complained about the heavy workload and coined a new name for his position, calling himself a “wide back.”
But after dealing with injuries in college and early in his NFL career, it’s likely that Samuel will want a long-term deal in place before having another season with that kind of load.
The 49ers also are trying to negotiate a long-term deal with edge rusher Nick Bosa, who was picked second overall, a round ahead of Samuel in 2019. San Francisco will exercise the fifth-year option on Bosa but could try to lock him up this offseason.
The Niners currently have little room on the salary cap, but can create significant room by cutting or trading quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco is expected to turn the offense over to Lance this season, but finding a suitor for Garoppolo’s $24.2 million salary has been made more difficult because few teams are in the market for a QB and Garoppolo is coming off shoulder surgery.
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