Proposed Blockbuster 49ers Trade Flips Brandon Aiyuk for Top-5 Draft Pick

Brandon Aiyuk

Getty Brandon Aiyuk could still wind up in a different uniform in 2024.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk could get traded in the coming week, and ESPN writer Bill Barnwell’s trade proposal would be a dream scenario.

Barnwell has Aiyuk going to the Los Angeles Chargers for the No. 5 pick in the draft. That’s part of Barnwell’s “annual mock draft that consists entirely of trades” and ones that “might — emphasis on might — make sense” for the teams involved.

In Barnwell’s trade proposal, the 49ers acquire both the No. 5 pick and the Chargers’ sixth-round pick at No. 181. Los Angeles acquires Aiyuk and the 49ers’ first round pick at No. 31 plus a third round pick at No. 94.

This trade would value Aiyuk as being worth something like the No. 17 overall pick on the Jimmy Johnson chart, which feels fair in a year in which there are so many talented wideouts available through the draft,” Barnwell wrote.

Aiyuk has been clamoring for a new contract all offseason instead of playing on the 49ers’ fifth-year option of $14.12 million. It’s a little more than $10 million lower than Spotrac’s projected annual market value of $24.9 million.

Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers in a Contract Stalemate

San Francisco enjoyed back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons by Aiyuk, and he made clutch plays during the Super Bowl run last season. Despite his on-field success, the two sides are “not close” in contract negotiations according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The 49ers also have a tough salary cap situation with $15.83 million over the cap.

Aiyuk unfollowed the 49ers on social media last week, which stirred further speculation about a trade. In addition, Aiyuk’s agent, Ryan Williams, shot down his client’s trade request rumors. Niners general manager John Lynch previously said there’s no plan to trade Aiyuk during the annual NFL owners meetings.

Despite both sides dismissing trade talk, the 49ers could still trade Aiyuk without a request as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio sees it. The 49ers could entertain more calls leading up to the draft Florio wrote, and the team receiving offers that are closer to Barnwell’s proposal wouldn’t hurt.

How the 49ers Benefit from a Chargers Trade

San Francisco trading into the top five of the draft has happened once in recent years. The 49ers did in 2021 to land quarterback Trey Lance though it didn’t work out in the end.

If the 49ers could act on Barnwell’s trade proposal, it wouldn’t be a quarterback this time around with Brock Purdy cemented as the starter. Instead, the 49ers can build around him.

“With Brock Purdy about to get much more expensive after 2024 and the 49ers already paying big money to Christian McCaffreyDeebo SamuelGeorge Kittle and Trent Williams, this would be a creative way to save money,” Barnwell wrote. “Sacrificing Aiyuk would allow them to move all the way up the board and draft his replacement, which could be yards-after-catch playmaker Malik Nabers. Re-signing Aiyuk and trading Samuel might make more sense, but I don’t believe Samuel would command the same sort of return.”

“If I’m the Chargers, it would be tough to trade for a wideout when I could just stay put and land a potential franchise wide receiver in the top 10,” Barnwell wrote. “Given Johnston’s rookie flameout and the need to not waste any more of [Justin] Herbert’s prime, I could see a case for landing a more reliable solution and attempting to plug multiple holes in one draft.”