Proposed 1st-Round Draft Trade Ships Steelers Big, Fast WR

George Pickens Calvin Austin III Brandon Aiyuk

Getty Fox Sports' David Herman and Carmen Vitali proposed the Pittsburgh Steelers bolster their receiving corps by adding Brandon Aiyuk to George Pickens and Calvin Austin III.

Despite reasons to believe Brandon Aiyuk will not be leaving the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, NFL pundits have continued connecting Aiyuk to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On April 18, Fox Sports’ David Helman and Carmen Vitali proposed the Steelers trade their No. 20 overall pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft to the 49ers. In the proposal, the Steelers received Aiyuk.

“Maybe you think pick No. 20 is rich for an All-Pro wide receiver, but I’m here to remind you the Titans fetched more when they sent A.J. Brown to Philadelphia two years ago,” Helman and Vitali wrote. “Aiyuk would massively upgrade the Steelers‘ receiver corps, and the 49ers would then have two first-round picks to use in the same draft.”

Helman and Vitali didn’t specify whether anything else would be included in the Steelers trade for Aiyuk. In 2022, the Philadelphia Eagles sent the No. 18 overall selection and a third-round pick to the Tennessee Titans for A.J. Brown.

Standing at 6-feet tall and 200 pounds, Aiyuk has lived up to his pre-draft billing as a receiver with size and speed. In 2023, he posted a career-high 1,342 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. He also had a career-best 17.9 yards per catch average.

The Steelers ‘Have’ Pursued 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

The Aiyuk-Steelers rumblings began in full steam this offseason just about when the team settled its situation at quarterback with the Russell Wilson signing and Justin Fields trade.

During the first week of NFL free agency, the Steelers traded Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers for cornerback Donte Jackson. That left a giant hole for Pittsburgh at wide receiver. George Pickens is the only receiver on the roster who eclipsed the 210-yard mark last season.

The Steelers have signed Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins in NFL free agency. But both receivers agreed to league-minimum deals, so neither appears guaranteed to make the roster.

Therefore, the Steelers adding Aiyuk would make a lot of sense. Aiyuk and Pickens, who led the NFL with 18.1 yards per catch last season, would make up a very dynamic duo. For that reason, many NFL pundits have connected the Steelers to Aiyuk through trade rumors.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac responded to a question in a fan chat on April 17 that the Steelers “have” pursued Aiyuk this offseason.

Aiyuk’s Agent Claps Back at Steelers Trade Rumors

While Dulac admitted that the Steelers have pursued Aiyuk, that is not an indication that he’s close to landing in Pittsburgh.

“[The Steelers] would love to pursue Aiyuk, and have, but that doesn’t mean the 49ers want to trade him,” wrote Dulac. “That’s what they have wanted to do — find a big-time veteran receiver to pair w George Pickens.”

On March 25, 49ers general manager John Lynch essentially told reporters that he and the organization were not interested in shopping Aiyuk this offseason. Then on April 18, a sports agent, Ryan Williams, from Aiyuk’s representation all but confirmed that notion on social media.

Williams attacked a tweet suggesting the possibility of Aiyuk still landing with the Steelers.

“Another ‘report’ that couldn’t be more incorrect,” Williams wrote. “Fictional ‘journalism’ should really stop.”

All indications are that the 49ers will not be sending Aiyuk to the Steelers. But because the want and need exists at receiver for Pittsburgh, the rumors aren’t likely to stop until after the first round of the 2024 NFL draft.

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