April 17, 2024

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49ers GM – Aiyuk is not available for trade, contract talks ongoing

49ers GM – Aiyuk is not available for trade, contract talks ongoing

ORLANDO, Fla. — San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stand on the sidelines at Michigan's pro day last week, laughing as Tomlin brought up Niners wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

Speculation about Aiyuk's future with the team has been going on for over a year and has come to a head this offseason as Aiyuk prepares for the final year of his rookie contract. This includes rumored trades all over the NFL map, including Tomlin's Steelers.

Speaking to a small group of reporters Monday afternoon at the NFL Draft meetings, Lynch made his most specific statement yet that not only is Aiyuk available to be traded, but that the team has already begun discussing with Aiyuk and his representatives the parameters of an extension that would keep him in line. the long.

“[Tomlin] “Bro, what’s going on,” Lynch said with a laugh. “I promise nothing will happen there. We're actively talking with Brandon to try to figure something out. We have a good history of working with the people we want to get something done, and it's something that requires two sides. So can we do it? We'll see. There are a number of “Different directions things could go, but we appreciate Brandon's effort and who he is as a player, and we want him to be a part of the Niners. We're going to make that a reality.”

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Ayyuk, in the meantime She posted a story on Instagram on Monday afternoon with a series of emojis that translate to “Money talks, bulls—walks.”

The trade speculation surrounding Aiyuk never came from the 49ers. At last year's league meet in Arizona, Lynch confirmed that other teams had reached out to the Niners to gauge their interest in dealing Aiyuk, but Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan rejected those offers.

But that hasn't stopped the conversation from continuing, largely because of the Niners' increasingly top-heavy roster that includes high-paid stars like left tackle Trent Williams, defensive end Nick Bosa, receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle and linebacker Fred. Warner.

The outside assumption was that the 49ers wouldn't be able to sign rookie Aiyuk — who is coming off a 75-catch, 1,342-yard, 7-touchdown season that earned him a second-team All Pro nod — because of the cap crunch created by those other contracts.

Aiyuk is currently scheduled to make $14.124 million against the cap in 2024 if he plays under the fifth-year option the team exercised on the 2020 No. 25 overall pick last summer. By extending the contract, the Niners could actually lower that cap hit and keep a relatively small number for 2025, so that by the time his big salaries kick in, some other big-money deals will be off the books.

“There's nothing better than recruiting a guy, developing him, watching him flourish and then rewarding him,” Lynch said. “That's really what we'd like to do.”

While Lynch is optimistic a deal can be reached for Aiyuk, he has also been clear it won't be easy. The Niners have a history of extending lucrative contracts with their homegrown stars like Kittle, Warner, Samuel and Bosa, but those discussions have always continued up to and sometimes even into training camp. Just last year, Bosa's blockbuster deal wasn't finalized until days before the season opener against the Steelers.

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A similar scenario could play out for Aiyuk, who the Niners envision as part of their next star core to build upon.

“We're talking to his guys and trying to talk about some parameters for some things,” Lynch said. “We're having discussions. That's a good thing.”

On Monday, Lynch also explained the accounting error that cost the Niners a fifth-round draft pick in 2025 and four draft slots at the end of the fourth round this year.

According to Lynch, during the 2020 season, the Niners overpaid the player by $75,000. While that amount didn't put them over the salary cap, they also didn't discover it until the fall of 2022. After trying to get a refund, the 49ers eventually reported the error to the league. Lynch noted that the delay in reporting was the reason the NFL decided to punish the team as much as it did even if it disagreed with the punishment.

“I have a difference of opinion about the seriousness of the discipline,” Lynch said. He added, “We bear responsibility for what happened… We own our share. We passed a full mitigation agreement to address some of the problems that occurred, but the league decided to impose this. So, take your medicine, and you will do it.” I continue.”

As for the Niners' two injured players, Lynch confirmed that Kittle and cornerback Sharvarius Ward both underwent core muscle surgeries that will keep them out for the entire season, but they should be able to return for training camp.

“I had this surgery myself when I was playing W [it has a] “The success rate of recovery is very high and you feel much better once you are done with it,” Lynch said. “It's constantly painful to be pulled by that heart. So both men fixed that.”

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