How realistic are the Brandon Aiyuk trade rumors?

Is there really anything to the smoke around Brandon Aiyuk's trade demands and the 49ers' willingness to make it happen?
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

Where's there smoke, there's often not fire in the National Football League. Agents provide "smokescreens" and teams leak false information at times in order to publicly frame contract negotiations or deflect intentions. That's what makes it harder to tell what's going in San Franciso with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

On Sunday, a rumor leaked via John Frascella on Twitter saying that Aiyuk had demanded a trade. The post included rumored interest from the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a "mystery team."

Aiyuk's agent stomped out those embers the following day with a statement calling the rumor false. Specifically, he posted, "You need better sources." That's a solid source for Aiyuk and further backs up the sentiment from 49ers general manager John Lynch from late March who said he wanted to work out a long-term deal with Aiyuk.

Lynch has good reason to bring back Aiyuk given his incredible production in his first few years in the league. Last year he had 75 catches for 1,342 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns for San Francisco while earning his first All-Pro mention in his four year career.

It's not difficult to find overtures for the Kansas City Chiefs to insert themselves into the situation on social media or mock drafts given the team's need of a top-flight playmaker at wide receiver, but of course that requires a significant trade as well as an expensive contract—the opposite of the move they made with their own version of Aiyuk two years ago in the Tyreek Hill trade.

Still, nothing can even be considered on the Chiefs' end unless Aiyuk is really up for grabs. And if so, what would it take to get him? We wanted to get under the surface of the situation, so we reached out to our friend Peter Panacy, editor of Niner Noise to ask him about the whole situation.

How real is the possibility of the 49ers really trading Brandon Aiyuk? Is it zero? Is there any fire with this smoke?

Small chance. The 49ers would have to get blown away by an offer they can't refuse. They went through this with Deebo two years ago, and that worked out. If Round 1 of the draft passes, I'd suspect no trade takes place.

Why would the 49ers even think of trading Aiyuk in the first place?

First, Aiyuk's extension demands far surpass what the Niners would accommodate. It's like buying a house, and Aiyuk would have to go above that "walk away" price.

Second, and only if the first happens, the 49ers wouldn't want Aiyuk to be a distraction in the final year of his current contract. He's still under contract for 2024, and then there's a possible franchise tag after that. But the Niners probably wouldn't want a disgruntled wide receiver in the locker room who's unhappy with his current situation.

Still, a pissed-off player can be a productive player, and if San Francisco's Super Bowl window is open now, why part ways with that?

Do you have insight into what exactly his demands are and what the Niners are willing to offer?

He's probably wanting just a bit north of what DeVonta Smith got now. Statistically, Aiyuk has been better the last three seasons. I'm guessing a three-year deal worth up to $80 million with $55 million guaranteed, but that's just spit-balling. Aiyuk is wise to wait it out to see the market develop.

The Niners won't wholly lowball him, but they'd probably want to backload his deal as much as possible because they're in a bit of cap hell next season and still have Brock Purdy's extension to figure out.

If a team wanted to try to pry him out, does the conversation begin with a first-round pick? More than that? Would that get it done?

At the very least, but it'd have to coincide with talks between Aiyuk and the Niners completely breaking down. It'd be one thing if San Francisco wasn't quite a Super Bowl contender. Since the 49ers are, though, they know that no draftee would be good enough to account for Aiyuk being traded.