One of the wildest off-season’s in NFL history continues to take twists and turns well into April. It’s rare a player of Deebo Samuel’s caliber becomes available this late in the game, but according to reports, the superstar wide receiver wants out of the San Francisco 49ers organization.
If Samuel is ultimately granted a trade, it will likely follow a trend of trading wide receivers so their new team can immediately extend them, like Tyreek Hill in Miami or Davante Adams in Las Vegas. Samuel is the latest uber-talented wideout to hit the trade market, and given his unique abilities as both a receiver and a ball-carrying rusher, the 49ers should demand a king’s ransom for the 26-year-old player.
Last season, Samuel caught 77 passes for 1,405 yards (averaging an NFL-high 18.2 yards per reception) and recorded six touchdown catches in addition to eight scores on the ground. Samuel’s usage and skillset pretty much put him in a class of his own, and every other team in the NFL would happily design their offense around the All-Pro wide receiver.
Where could Deebo Samuel land in 2022? Will any team offer enough to pry the superstar away from the 49ers? After all, San Francisco was just a quarter of football away from reaching Super Bowl 56: what will the price be for the team to trade their best offensive asset?
New York Jets
The New York Jets have been connected to a number of big-name receivers this offseason, including Tyreek Hill, and have even been linked to Samuel prior to his official request for a trade. The Jets are the betting favorites to land Samuel at this moment in time for three reasons: a dire and noted need to upgrade Zach Wilson’s options at wide receiver, plenty of draft picks to potentially trade away, and the long-term cap space to ink Samuel to an extension.
The Jets have tried to go big at wide receiver in the past (think Brandon Marshall) but getting their hands on Samuel in his prime could potentially change the trajectory of the franchise for the next few years.
Jalen Hurts made strides in his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021, earning a playoff spot. But even with Devonta Smith and Jalen Reagor on the roster, an upgrade at wide receiver has already been explored in Philadelphia this offseason. Even if Samuel wasn’t used out of the backfield, his skillset could fit the Eagles offense well. Hurts is a mobile quarterback who could benefit immensely from a speedy wideout who can turn a five-yard catch into a 20-yard gain. The Eagles offense thrived rushing the ball last season, and even if he’s not taking hand-offs, Samuel’s short and mid-range abilities could optimize the offense in 2022.
Kansas City Chiefs
This one doesn’t make sense, couldn’t make sense, shouldn’t make sense… and yet, multiple sources around the NFL indicate the Kansas City Chiefs could be suitors for Samuel’s services via a trade, despite parting ways with another All-Pro wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, less than a month ago.
If the Chiefs couldn’t pay Hill, it’s unclear why they would acquire Samuel, unless they think he would play out his current contract for a shot at a Super Bowl title. Swapping out Hill for Samuel may seem like six of one, half a dozen of the other at the wide receiver position, but Hill and Samuel obviously offer different specialties. Instead of Hill’s blazing downfield speed, Samuel is a yards-after-the-catch receiver, something Patrick Mahomes hasn’t always had the benefit of. The Chiefs offense would still have the new additions of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as well as incumbents like Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman to stretch the field, potentially opening it up for Samuel underneath.
Do the Chiefs “need” Samuel? No, there’s other areas they can definitely still address before the 2022-23 season begins. But with picks #29 and #30 in the first round, in today’s crazy, offense-heavy NFL, you never know what could happen.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints will look to make a playoff push in 2023 with Jameis Winston, aided by the return of Michael Thomas. But putting Samuel next to Thomas would create perhaps the most talented wide receiver duo in the entire NFL. Even with Thomas set to return, the Saints have been doing their due diligence on potential wide receivers, including a recent visit with former Browns and hometown LSU receiver Jarvis Landry.
Samuel, Thomas, and Alvin Kamara all on the same offense would be flat-out unfair to opposing defenses, and take pressure off of Winston to do it all by himself. Additionally, New Orleans has a pair of first round picks at their disposal in order to entice the 49ers.
Besides the Jets, the Detroit Lions stand out on this list as a team pretty far from contention that could make a play for Samuel’s services. Detroit has been rebuilding since the Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff swap, but trading for Samuel would essentially send the message the team would rather compete now than build through the draft for a few seasons.
In terms of draft capital and cap room, the Lions are an ideal potential trade suitor. Detroit picks second overall, 32nd overall, and 34th overall, and one or two of those picks could absolutely entice San Francisco. Samuel could be Jared Goff’s number one weapon, with Amon-Ra St. Brown and the newly acquired D.J. Chark rounding out a solid wide receiver room.
I’m not sure I would pull the trigger if I was Detroit, simply due to the high-risk of giving up so much draft capital when the team isn’t ready to compete for a Super Bowl right now. On the other hand, teams have proved time and time again that a franchise can be turned around in just one year, and in today’s offensive-minded NFL, Samuel would certainly be an incredible asset.
New England Patriots
From Davante Adams to Julio Jones, the New England Patriots are frequently featured on my lists of “where should this veteran wide receiver land?” The difference in this situation, however, is that Samuel is still young, and rather than being available in free agency, New England would have to give up draft capital to acquire the wide receiver’s services.
But while the former two wide receivers would stretch the field vertically for Mac Jones and the Patriots offense, it would be incredibly interesting to see how Bill Belichick could use Samuel’s unique skillset. From Samuel’s ability to carry the ball out of the backfield to his knack for picking up yards after the catch, the wide receiver could completely change New England’s offense.
Green Bay Packers
This one seems like the longest shot on this list, but until the Green Bay Packers fill the void left by the departure of Davante Adams, they will also be featured on almost every “where should this high-profile wide receiver land.”
It’s hard to imagine a pairing of Aaron Rodgers and Deebo Samuel wouldn’t lead to amazing results. But while there’s certainly other NFC teams on this list, would the 49ers really want to trade Samuel to Green Bay, one of the biggest contenders in the conference?
On the bright side, Green Bay has a plethora of drat picks, including four selections in the first two rounds.
The last team I tend to throw on these wide receiver landing spots list is the Baltimore Ravens: the idea of pairing Lamar Jackson with a true number one wide receiver that can single-handedly torch opposing defenses is too juicy to pass up. I consider the Ravens a top contender heading into 2022 (after all, they were 8-3 last season before Jackson went down,) but adding a receiver of Samuel’s caliber would put Baltimore over the top and in direct competition with the AFC’s top teams.
Baltimore currently holds the 14th overall pick as well as 45th overall and a pair of third-rounders. The 14th pick and a third round selection could be a decent starting point for potential trade talks with San Francisco. Trading Samuel to the Ravens would also allow the 49ers to keep the star receiver out of the NFC.
Where will Deebo Samuel land?
At this moment in time, the New York Jets make the most sense due to their need for an offensive upgrade as well as their ability to both trade for and extend the wide receiver. Samuel may wish to play for a contender, but if the 49ers are in control of his destination, they will select the suitor with highest offer.
After the Jets, I could see the New Orleans Saints or Philadelphia Eagles making enticing offers. On a personal level, the prospect of trading Samuel to the Baltimore Ravens and pairing him with Lamar Jackson excites me the most. I also believe it’s entirely possible, and perhaps even the most likely scenario, that a team will come out of left field at the last minute and make the 49ers an offer they can’t refuse.
Where do you think Deebo Smauel will play in 2022? To join the conversation, be sure to interact with @SakSports on Twitter.
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