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What Brandon Aiyuk’s next 49ers contract could look like, per ex-NFL GM – NBC Sports Bay Area & California


What Brandon Aiyuk’s next 49ers contract could look like, per ex-NFL GM – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

The 49ers’ contract negotiations with Brandon Aiyuk understandably are tricky, as the franchise wants to inexpensively operate while the All-Pro wide receiver desires top dollar.

However, former NFL general manager Randy Mueller believes that San Francisco should be able to decide on a fair number to get a deal done.

Mueller shared what he believes Aiyuk’s potential next 49ers contract will look like in his latest story for The Athletic.

“Ultimately, I expect Aiyuk would sign for around $30 million to $32 million annually with about $50 million fully guaranteed,” wrote Mueller (h/t 49ers Webzone’s Kirk Larrabee). “That would give him something to hang his hat on.”

“The question then becomes: Do the 49ers value him that much more than their other options, even if that cost is a bit more than what they had budgeted? I think a deal will get done before camp starts, when time is of the essence.”

Aiyuk believes that he is worth the high price tag, as he is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard-receiving season. 

Plus, 49ers quarterback and 2023 NFL MVP candidate Brock Purdy has made Aiyuk his top target over the last two seasons.

Rival wide receivers have secured big-time raises this offseason, which helps Aiyuk’s case, too. Mueller noted that the Detroit Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown’s recent four-year, $120 million deal paints a clearer picture of what the 49ers should expect to offer Aiyuk.

“The fly in the ointment for the 49ers is St. Brown’s contract,” Mueller wrote. “Most in the NFL would consider Aiyuk a better all-around player than St. Brown, whose deal caused much back-channel conversation within the league. That’s the one bit of leverage Aiyuk has that might have some traction with the 49ers’ brass. Because of that deal alone, they might have to go to $31 million per year.”

Mueller also believes San Francisco has the upper hand in contract negotiations with Aiyuk. Due to the 49ers’ surplus of offensive weapons paired with the evolution of the CBA and infamous franchise tag, San Francisco can continue dragging its feet.

“Aiyuk has the short straw,” Mueller added. “He has a contract for 2024 that will pay him $14.1 million, and under the current CBA, holding out of training camp is not a viable option. 

If the 49ers wanted to play hardball, they could make Aiyuk play for that and then franchise-tag him for 2025. 

“The tag for wide receivers (which the Cincinnati Bengals’ Tee Higgins received this offseason) is worth $21.8 million in 2024. It is projected to rise near $25 million in 2025, which would put Aiyuk around $39 million over the next two years. “I’m not suggesting the 49ers should play hardball, but they could if they wanted to. That’s leverage. Obviously, Aiyuk’s representation knows this.”

Both Aiyuk and the 49ers, in their own — often cryptic — ways, have expressed interest in extending their partnership. That’s probably the best scenario for the two parties and football fans everywhere. 

But until the ink dries, San Francisco likely will continue exploring avenues to improve its roster while playing the waiting game with its prized wide receiver.

No one positively knows where Aiyuk will be playing, if he even does, next season.

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