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All-Pro Wideout Unfollows Team As Trade Rumors Circulate

Star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk recently unfollowed the 49ers on Instagram in the latest sign that a trade is imminent.
Brandon Aiyuk Trade

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been the subject of trade rumors ever since the end of the 2023 season. A first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Arizona State product has improved on a year-by-year basis and is due for a massive extension. Last year, Aiyuk recorded 75 receptions for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns, serving as the top receiving option on one of the best teams in football. The 49ers made it to the Super Bowl but narrowly lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now entering the final year of his rookie deal, all signs point towards a Brandon Aiyuk trade happening during the 2024 NFL Draft. The wide receiver’s girlfriend and best friend both alluded to a trade, and Aiyuk has done nothing to put out those rumors. In fact, he recently called out general manager John Lynch for “bullshit” comments about his contract status.

All these signs point towards a trade, and the latest news only increases the likelihood that Brandon Aiyuk will play somewhere else in 2024. According to The 33rd Team, the wide receiver is no longer following the 49ers on Instagram.

Brandon Aiyuk Unfollows 49ers On Instagram, Trade Could Be Imminent

For those not on social media, unfollowing teams is a common way for players to express frustration with an organization. As an example, Lamar Jackson did something similar last year before reaching out to potential suitors. While Jackson and the Ravens ended up avoiding a trade, Brandon Aiyuk and the 49ers will probably part ways.

Thanks in part to the Trey Lance trade, the 49ers simply don’t have the money to keep Brandon Aiyuk. The NFL Draft is the best way to add cost-controlled talent to the roster, and losing three consecutive first-round picks forced San Francisco to sign high-priced veterans. With Brock Purdy also due for a massive extension, Aiyuk appears to be the odd-man out.

The 49ers were in a similar situation a few years ago with DeForest Buckner. After trying to negotiate a long-term deal, San Francisco soon realized they wouldn’t be able to extend the defensive tackle. So, they traded him to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick that would eventually become Javon Kinlaw. History could repeat itself with Brandon Aiyuk, and several teams should be lining up to trade for him.

Possible Trade Destinations

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills need a wide receiver after sending Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans. While Diggs is still a talented player, he started to slow down in 2023 and carries plenty of off-field baggage. Curtis Samuel and Khalil Shakir are solid depth options, but a Brandon Aiyuk trade would give this team a legitimate top weapon in a passing attack.

Kansas City Chiefs

Rashee Rice is in serious legal trouble and could end up serving time in prison. Even if he avoids jail, the NFL will almost certainly hand out some type of suspension. With Travis Kelce getting older and Marquise Brown on a one-year deal, this team needs a long-term pass-catcher capable of tearing up the league with Patrick Mahomes. A Brandon Aiyuk trade could be just what the doctor ordered, as he could terrify the league in Andy Reid’s scheme.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have the worst group of wide receivers in the NFL by a wide margin. While they will likely address the position in the 2024 NFL Draft, they need to find at least two starting-caliber wideouts. If the Chargers trade back with the Minnesota Vikings, they could use one of their first-round picks to get Brandon Aiyuk. With over $31 million in cap space, this team should be willing to pay top dollar for an elite wideout.

Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens gave Lamar Jackson two reliable receivers in 2023, and he won the MVP. With Odell Beckham on the way out, the Ravens could upgrade the wide receiver room with a Brandon Aiyuk trade. While this team still needs to find replacements for Patrick Queen and a few offensive linemen, Aiyuk would give them the firepower to win just about any game.

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers need Bryce Young to be a franchise quarterback. Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill helped Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa reach their respective ceilings, and Brandon Aiyuk could do the same for Young in a trade. Armed with a great receiver and a solid supporting cast, the Alabama product should have the tools to show what he can do at the professional level.

Main Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck – USA Today Sports


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