Deebo Samuel, the 49ers’ most important offensive player, no longer wants to be a fundamental piece in San Francisco.
Samuel told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington on Wednesday that he had requested a trade from the 49ers. The trade request comes during an offseason in which Samuel was hoping to cash in like fellow receivers Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs.
But the 49ers don’t have to honor Samuel’s trade request. In fact, if they want to play hardball, the 49ers have the leverage in this situation.
Samuel is under contract for the 2022 season, the final year of his rookie contract. The 49ers could also mark him as a franchise for the 2023 season at an acceptable contract number.
Could Samuel threaten not to play? Sure. Is this a bluff the 49ers would likely call, betting on him not to lose a large sum of money? Most likely.
The 49ers also hold some clout when it comes to the start of training camp. Say the 49ers decline to offer Samuel’s request, believing having him on the roster gives them a better shot at a Super Bowl in the 2022-23 season. Samuel probably wouldn’t retaliate by not showing up for training camp, given that the CBA states that if a player is under contract and refuses to show up for the mandatory preseason camp on the opening date, he will not receive an accumulated season for the league year. .
Samuel failing to rack up a season in 2022 means he would enter restricted free agency the next offseason, which would not benefit his desire to leave San Francisco.
All of this is assuming the 49ers choose to play hardball with Samuel.
Given his extreme value to the 49ers offense, it’s likely the 49ers will try to take the summer to mend the relationship with Samuel. News of his trade request leak now allows the 49ers to see what trade deals are available ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, but it could be up to them to try to get Samuel back to the negotiating table and see if things go wrong. can be repaired.
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The 49ers wanted to play Samuel. They gave big extensions to George Kittle and Fred Warner, and Samuel was next.
Somewhere along the way, the relationship evolved.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported that Samuel’s use, not the money offered, was a major reason for trade demand. It seems like something the 49ers can fix. But if the relationship is irreparable, the 49ers will find themselves in a difficult position.
Do they trade Samuel within the week, getting the best possible return to help the 2022 team compete? Are they ignoring the request for now in hopes of bringing Samuel back to the table? If Samuel doesn’t want to rethink his desire to stay with the 49ers, do they call his bluff and assume he’ll show up and play in 2022 wanting to rack up that fourth season?
The 49ers wanted Samuel to be a centerpiece of their franchise. He wants to move on. The 49ers think they have a Super Bowl roster and Samuel is a key part of their offensive offense. They hold the leverage at this point. But will they use it or give Samuel what he wants?
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