The days leading into the NFL Draft are full of all sorts of misdirection plays from general managers.
But when it comes to disgruntled 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel, San Francisco GM John Lynch made a relatively emphatic declaration regarding the All-Pro wideout’s status and standing with the team:
At the pre-draft press conference, #49ers GM John Lynch was asked about WR Deebo Samuel. As part of his response: "I can't envision a scenario where we would (move on).” And also: “He’s just too good of a player."
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2022
In case you’ve been hibernating, Samuel asked the 49ers for a trade. It doesn’t mean they have to honor said request. But it’s out there. And publicly, too, as news of the request came out days after rumors were surfacing suggesting he wouldn’t participate in on-field team workouts until his contract situation was settled. Samuel is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and doing so after an offseason where other receivers have leveraged their contract desires to get PAID.
Samuel is arguably his team’s best and most important player. He is certainly both of those things on the offensive side of the ball. And with Samuel coming off a season in which he gained 1,770 scrimmage yards and scored 14 total touchdowns on 136 touches, Samuel wants to be paid like it. That’s fair. However, because of that production, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Lynch has no intent to trade Samuel.
But what if Samuel doesn’t want to take the 49ers’ money? And what if he is so firm in that stance, it forces Lynch’s hand to execute a trade. What would it take? The MMQB’s Albert Breer has an idea:
One rival GM said to me Sunday that he believes you’d probably have to go to John Lynch with two first-round picks, which would replace the 2022 and ’23 first-rounders the Niners dealt away last year to move up for Trey Lance, to wriggle Samuel free of San Francisco.
That is a hefty acquisition cost. But it is also one that could be worth it for a team that needs receiver help and can maximize Samuel’s skill set. Naturally, these conversations lead us to wonder if the Bears are a team that makes sense for a Samuel trade. Chicago certainly has a need at receiver. And the Bears shouldn’t be shy about exploring all avenues in terms of finding impact talent. But two first-round picks is a large ask. The Bears don’t have a first-round selection in this year’s draft, but could — in theory — dangle a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft to go along with its 39th overall selection in this year’s class. Tempting, ain’t it?
It’s just that such move doesn’t fit where the Bears are now in the team-building process. Do the Bears need receiver help? Absolutely. But do they need it at the expense of mortgaging future drafts? Not necessarily. And with one way-too-early mock draft hinting at the Bears pick being a top-3 selection in 2023, it might be enough to not have an interest in such a deal. Tack on the team’s various other needs beyond the receiver position, I struggle to see the Bears being a team in the Samuel sweepstakes. Although, NFC North rivals in Green Bay and Detroit could be jockeying for position here. So, let’s keep our eye on that possibility.
In the end, whichever team does try to land the big play receiver will end up paying a bounty. That is, of course, if Samuel and San Francisco can’t work things out. Stay tuned.