The San Francisco 49ers could address their looming salary cap issues by trading wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Aiyuk is due for a significant pay raise, but the 49ers wide receiver is now being linked to a trade with the Houston Texans.

San Francisco has already agreed to pay WR Deebo Samuel $28.57 million in 2024. Not to mention the massive cap hits incurred by players such as DE Nick Bosa and RB Christian McCaffery. Something has to give, and Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine believes Aiyuk could be traded as a result.

“Aiyuk is an intriguing name because he is the starting quarterback and appears to have a great relationship with the team.” The issue is that the 49ers are already paying Deebo Samuel as if he were a top option… Aiyuk still has a season left on his contract, so the team could ignore the situation, but they would be lowering the receiver’s trade value and decreasing their return,” Ballentine writes.

Brandon Aiyuk

According to the proposal, the 49ers could receive a first-round pick in 2024, a fourth-round pick in 2024, and a fifth-round pick in 2025. That’s a sizable payday for a player with only one year left on his contract.

San Francisco essentially has three options. They can pay Aiyuk this offseason, trade him, or keep him for 2024 before allowing him to test free agency the following year.

Aiyuk Having Best Year Yet

Any doubts about Aiyuk’s ability have been comprehensively addressed this season. Aiyuk had shown improvement in each of his NFL seasons, but the 2023 campaign has been on a different level.

With three games left to play, Aiyuk has already set new career bests for receiving yards and longest catch. At 1090 yards through 13 appearances, the former Arizona State star is averaging 83.8 yards per game.

According to PFR, his 18.5 yards per catch leads the NFL among qualified receivers. Aiyuk has solidified himself as the 49ers’ top deep threat, allowing Deebo and tight end George Kittle to focus on the routes underneath.

Finding a player like Aiyuk is not easy, which is why San Francisco should be cautious about trading him. However, their committed spending means they may not have much of a choice.

ESPN Insider Speaks on 49ers, Aiyuk

Ballentine’s proposal is spinning off a recent article from ESPN’s Dan Graziano, who believes Aiyuk could be dealt. When prompted about potential veteran trades, Graziano thinks Aiyuk is one of several receivers who could be on the move.

“Aiyuk is a brilliant talent whom the 49ers would love to keep, but he’s due for a contract extension, and they can’t keep everyone,” Graziano explained.

As Heavy’s Sean Deveney wrote up, San Francisco is currently projected to be $7.5 million over the cap in 2023. That’s already a sizable chunk that will require significant moves to reduce.

Keeping top players is important, but it’s sometimes not viable. Considering the 49ers are already “working on credit” with the salary cap, they don’t have much room to budge. Whether or not Aiyuk is part of those adjustments will be a critical talking point of the 2024 offseason.

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