Patriots Top WR Trade Target Voices Frustrations With Current Contract Situation

Brandon Aiyuk

Getty Images Brandon Aiyuk

The New England Patriots set their sights on bolstering their receiving corps this offseason, but their plans have hit a roadblock. Despite their ample cap space, which stood at $100 million at the onset of free agency, the Patriots fell short in pursuing marquee free agent Calvin Ridley. As a result, their lone addition to the receiving unit has been former Vikings pass-catcher K.J. Osborn.

While New England focused on retaining key players like Hunter Henry, Mike Onwenu, and Kendrick Bourne, the quest for a top-tier wide receiver remains unfulfilled. As the offseason progresses, the Patriots are left evaluating their options and potentially exploring alternative avenues to strengthen their receiving corps. One glaring option for a trade target would be the San Francisco 49ers’ WR Brandon Aiyuk.

Aiyuk is navigating his current contract situation with the 49ers. The star receiver, selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, is eager for a contract extension that reflects his value to the team. However, if an agreement cannot be reached with the organization that drafted him, Aiyuk appears open to exploring opportunities elsewhere.

During an appearance on the “Nightcap” podcast with hosts Shannon Sharpe and Chad Johnson, Aiyuk discussed his contract status, subtly evoking the possibility of a future beyond San Francisco.

Aiyuk Wants to be Paid What He’s Worth

While his comments were measured, the star WR hinted at the potential for a change of scenery, adding intrigue to his contract negotiations and future in the league.

“They trying to get work done,” Aiyuk told Sharpe and Johnson. “I’m trying to get what I deserve. I feel like this season, this season playing football, I figured out who I was as a person and a player, what I bring to the table, what I bring to the locker room, what I bring to the organization. And just the value I hold when I walk in that building.”

“I’ve done it the right way. If they don’t see the worth in that…” Aiyuk took a moment and gestured with his figures as if he’d be willing to walk out of San Francisco.

The 26-year-old Aiyuk has consistently delivered impressive performances in the last two seasons, amassing back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. His standout year came in 2023, when he recorded a career-high of 1,342 receiving yards. Aiyuk showcased his reliability by catching a career-best 78 passes the season before, contributing to 15 touchdowns over the previous two campaigns.

Aiyuk’s 49ers pass-catching teammate, Deebo Samuel, also believes that Aiyuk has done enough to earn the deal he feels he is worth. “If you look at his numbers from when he got to the league and now, it’s always a different type of leap,” Samuel said on the “Up & Adams” podcast. “And so, like I told him, I said, ‘Hey, man, you put yourself in a position to be where you want to be.’ He’s up for a new deal and things like that. And I just told him, because I’ve been through it, it’s not going to be all fine and dandy like you think it’s going to be. You’ve got to stay the course.”

The Patriots Are Still Very Much in the WR Market

At the NFL annual meeting in Orlando, New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo provided insight into the team’s ongoing efforts to bolster their roster. Amidst discussions with reporters, Mayo acknowledged the Patriots’ proactive approach in exploring potential trade opportunities, particularly in wide receivers.

“One hundred percent. We’re still open on the trade market,” Mayo told reporters. “But I would also say this is a pretty deep (draft) class as far as receivers are concerned. So, it’s all on the table right now and hopefully, as we continue to get closer to the draft, Eliot (Wolf) is fielding calls, the scouts are fielding calls. As we get closer to the draft, it starts to be a clearer picture. That’s really the goal.”

The depth of the wide receiver position in the upcoming draft class has garnered significant praise, with experts highlighting a consensus top three prospects consisting of Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze. These standout receivers are expected to make a significant impact at the next level, drawing attention from teams across the league as they prepare for the draft. The Patriots may also find their next marquee pass catcher via the draft.