As the NFL offseason continues, the San Francisco 49ers’ commercial inaction continues to fuel the rumor mill. Although the Jimmy Garoppolo rumors have subsided, the future of All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel is now at the center of much speculation.
Samuel was incredible last season for the 49ers, leading the league with 18.2 yards per reception while collecting 77 receptions, 1,405 receiving yards, 1,770 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns. Now heading into the final year of his rookie contract, Samuel is in a position to secure a due contract extension from the 49ers. However, for now at least, the Niners didn’t want to hit the asking price.
Samuel is said to be eyeing a deal that would pay him $25 million a year and potentially make him the highest paid non-QB in the NFL (although the physical meaning of that may be less than you think). The 49ers must have a flexible salary cap to give him the contract he deserves. However, due to its limited space, rumors began swirling that it could soon follow several other contenders who traded wide receivers.
Enter the New York Jets. With former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh serving as the Jets’ head coach alongside a slew of former Niners assistants, the Jets’ ties to Samuel were evident. As New York tries to build an attack around young quarterback Zach Wilson, adding a talent like Samuel would be a clear boon for the organization. Most importantly, for the 49ers, they have a lot of trial capital.
The Jets have two top-ten picks in rounds one and two along with seven picks in the first four rounds of this year’s draft. For this reason, they have several paths to make a strong commercial bid for the 49ers for Deebo Samuel.
There is a gap in the odds if the Samuel trade occurs. Planes It said Kansas City offered picks 35, 38 and 69 for Tyreek Hill, who has been an elite NFL recipient longer than Samuel, and also comes with more red flags off the field.
While Seahawks broadly DK Metcalf may be on the move soon, too. Seattle may not want to trade its only star left this season. That could leave Samuel as the only outstanding receiver remaining for teams like the Jets, who could position the 49ers for a greater return than Kansas City.
Here are some iterations of what an aircraft trade might cost. These packages are not intended to represent equivalent values but rather to cover the range of possibilities. The 49ers’ front office might ask themselves, “How long will it take for us to trade the best franchise wide receiver since Terrell Owens?” Take a look at these potential deals for yourself. Would any of them be enough for you to feel good about trading?
Jets-49ers Deebo Samuel #1 Commercial Package:
Fourth comprehensive choice
This would be a major change in the draft and the third year in a row that 49 players have been traded to select another best team in the first round. The Niners can tell the Jets that all they need is a fourth overall pick, it’s going to be hard to swallow, but given the overall venture capital in New York, they may be more willing to do that than the average team.
The 49ers will know right away that they will have a chance to draft at least one of Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeau, Trayvon Walker or Kyle Hamilton, the four elite defensive prospects in this category. Thibodeau, Walker and Hutchinson are interesting prospects who could instantly put together an amazing duo opposite Nick Bosa. The Hamilton is arguably the decade’s best safety prospect, which could add another dynamic piece to its secondary. Of course, they can also explore trading again to add more selections.
The Jets will be giving away their top offensive and defensive talent at the top of the draft, but with the Seahawks picking the first round (10th overall) and so many Top 40 picks, they’ll still have some flexibility to fall back in the top 10 to skip any of the contestants rushing over the edge who fall.
Since this deal is just one choice, different draft value charts won’t have different opinions. However, for context, the Fitzgerald-Spielberger diagram is a more modern graph built from an analytic model designed by Jason Fitzgerald and Brad Spielberger. Jimmy Johnson’s classic draft chart from his days as head coach has been the primary tool used in the NFL for many years, but the Rich Hill model has attempted to adjust it according to recent draft trade trends.
Draft Value Scheme: Choose one more equivalent to the total value (as it ranks among the five packages)
Fitzgerald Spielberger: Fourth overall pick (4)
Jimmy Johnson: Fourth overall pick (1)
Rich Hill: Fourth General Choice (1)
Jets-49ers Deebo Samuel Trade Pack #2:
If the Jets are keen to stick with their top five pick, then the top ten pick in rounds one and three will be the more than 49 players needed to trade the DeForest Buckner in 2020.
Broad future prospects, such as Drake London and Garrett Wilson, tend to come off the board at roughly the 10th pick on most dummy drafts, suggesting that the Niners could consider barter scenarios or pick class receivers as they look to help replace Samuel’s production. In addition, the 49ers are currently scheduled to be selected only once in the first 90 selections of the draft. So the addition of the third-rounder for the Jets would be a notable addition as well.
As for the Jets, they likely plan to take a receiver with the 10th overall pick in the draft. Although it would take more cover space, it would seem reasonable for them to be happy to turn that around and pick a third round for Samuel.
Fitzgerald Spielberger: General Pick Two (2)
Jimmy Johnson: Sixth overall pick (2)
Rich Hill: Sixth General Choice (2)
Jets-49ers Deebo Samuel Commercial Pack #3:
35, 38, 117
This deal approximates what the planes offered Hill. While they offered the 69th pick, they were getting a choice swap from Kansas City again in that proposed deal. This will essentially force the 49ers to ask themselves if they value Samuel more than Kansas City values Hill. If they did, that wouldn’t be good enough. If they don’t, this could be the deal getting done.
There is no scenario in NFL history where any team would trade the first overall pick for 35, 38, and 117, but the Fitzgerald-Spielberger model believed that the three-choice was actually more valuable than the top pick in the draft. Unsurprisingly, more traditional models view this package as much less valuable which is likely to piss off most fans.
The 49ers tend toward more traditional draft value schemes in their trades. For this reason, I would expect them to prefer only having the 10th General Pick for this bundle. I suspect any of those would be something that Airplanes would be happy to do.
Fitzgerald Spielberger: First overall pick (1)
Jimmy Johnson: The Thirteenth Choice (4)
Rich Hill: Eleventh General Choice (4)
Jets-49ers Deebo Samuel Commercial Pack #4:
38, New York 2023 1*
This framework appears to be the least attractive for either team as 49 of the teams are likely to be much more interested in competing in 2023 than the Jets. However, according to the three trade value charts, it represents a more or less equivalent value. Besides, betting on planes might not be a bad idea.
Fitzgerald Spielberger: Fourth overall pick (3)
Jimmy Johnson: 9th overall pick (3)
Rich Hill: Eighth General Pick (3)
* The value of the future selection was calculated at a discount rate of 35% and the assumption of the tenth general selection
Jets-49ers Deebo Samuel Commercial Pack #5:
Alija Vera Tucker, 35, 111
There is no denying how upset the 49ers fans would be if this was a trade that was executed. Without a first-round pick or a big-name player in return, this package would be an understandably disappointing return. However, it is also highly dependent on Vera-Tucker’s assessment and related draft graph.
Vera Tucker was the 14th overall pick in last year’s draft and had a solid rookie season, starting all 17 of the Jets’ games at the left guard. With the Jets signing 49-player left guard Laken Tomlinson as a free agent, Vera-Tucker will have to move to the other side of the streak if he stays in New York. He only started on the left side of the line in college or the pros.
The Niners still have questions about how they will replace Tomlinson. Vera-Tucker would be an obvious upgrade over the 49ers’ existing options. While he was inconsistent in protecting passes as a rookie, he was indeed a great running blocker.
His PFF scores were significantly higher than 49er-tier right-hander Dan Brunskill across the board, and there is reason to believe he has room for more development going forward. Add to this that the 49ers and Jets run very similar offensive tactics, and the potential fit is clear. But what is Vera Tucker’s value to San Francisco?
The Fitzgerald-Spielberger chart shows that this trade would be the group’s best proposition if Vera-Tucker were worth the 40th overall pick, a very easy case to make. However, more traditional schemes are more accurate.
Johnson’s scheme would require Vera-Tucker to deserve the 12th overall pick and Hill to be the 18th to make this deal more valuable than just a 4th redemption. Of course, if the 4th overall pick is off the table, that’s an entirely different conversation.
Fitzgerald Spielberger: Vera Tucker + 10th overall pick (5)
Jimmy Johnson: Vera Tucker + 30th overall pick (5)
Rich Hill: Vera Tucker + 29th overall pick (5)
49ers Breakeven Deebo Samuel Trade Jets:
Elijah Vera Tucker, 10
The 10th overall pick and Alijah Vera-Tucker might seem like a lot more than what the Jets offered Tyreek Hill, but would the Jets really turn down the chance of Deebo having only one inner line man and one pick? Especially when they still have a top five pick in the draft.
Almost every dummy draft expects the Jets to add a wide future with the 10th overall pick, so why not turn him into Deebo? While the Vera-Tucker trade will create some questions along their offensive line, there is no guarantee that it will be a smooth adjustment for him to move to the right side. Additionally, the Jets have retained both of their right-handguards from last season (Dan Feeney and Greg Van Roten) and will still have plenty of trial capital to add another internal offensive lineman.
If the 49 players make a questionable decision about trading Samuel, this deal could allow them to walk away and say they’ve received the equivalent of two first-round picks, one of which has already proven to be a solid start in the NFL in a clear gap in the roster.
While the majority of the salary cap savings will come from not giving Samuel an extension, Vera-Tucker’s 2022 salary is about $2.6 million less than Samuel’s, giving the 49ers a little more room to head into the draft. To measure, Vera-Tucker is under contract for the next three years at a cost of just over $2.1 million per season on the Niners, which is fantastic value for a starting guard. In addition, the 49ers will have another season of potential team control over Vera-Tucker if they want to exercise his option for the fifth year of the 2025 season.
To me, it would probably take the Jets to offer the 4th overall pick and Vera-Tucker to feel comfortable pulling the trigger. Even so, I’ll have some hesitation. Which is why if that was my decision, I probably wouldn’t trade with Samuel. As my colleague, Jordan Elliott, explained last month, teams that trade stars rarely come out in a better position than they initially did.
Incidentally, I doubt the Jets are willing to part with the top five and one of the best young players on their already under-talented roster, even for Samuel. It’s hard to imagine the Niners scoring more than Vera-Tucker and the Tenth overall, and that’s still going to be more than the aircraft on display at Tyreek Hill.
So how do you feel about the possibility of trading Deebo Samuel? What do you think a team like the Jets would be willing to offer? How many of these deals do you want the 49ers to accept? Let us know in the comments.