The San Francisco 49ers are going to be starting up the next phase of their offseason program with OTAs taking place this week. The biggest storyline of the voluntary practices is the status of star wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, Samuel will not be present at the practices as he is in a contract dispute with the team. This isn’t all too surprising as Samuel will likely remain away from team activities until his contract issue is resolved.
The All-Pro is in the final year of his rookie contract, which will pay him just under $4 million this season. We have seen a similar issue arise with his fellow second-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft in A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.
Brown got a low-ball offer from the Tennessee Titans, who subsequently traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Metcalf remains with the Seattle Seahawks and sounds like someone who wants to get a long-term deal worked out to remain in the greater northwest.
There has seemingly been some positive moment in the standoff between Samuel and the 49ers. General manager John Lynch has previously said the issues with Samuel aren’t insurmountable, which likely means they are haggling over money.
Samuel has re-followed all of their social media accounts as well, even liking a post that mentioned the comments that Lynch made. If money is truly the root of the issue, the 49ers should continue working hard to fix things, as Samuel is an important part of the offense.
Not locking Samuel into a long-term deal would certainly sting. When healthy, he is one of the most productive wide receivers in the league with his blend of physicality and athleticism. Last season, Kyle Shanahan unlocked a new way to deploy him, as Samuel wreaked havoc on opponents as a running back.
If Deebo Samuel isn’t on the field, or even worse traded at some point, it would be a big blow to Trey Lance. Lance looks like he will be taking over as the starter this season and doing so without the team’s best playmaker would certainly be a tough way to start your career as the franchise quarterback.