The San Francisco 49ers looked as if they would have a relatively quiet lead-up to the draft season. Without a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, as they traded it to move up and select Trey Lance last year, the 49ers were slated to pick late in the second round. But, that could all change very quickly. San Francisco wasn’t a team rumored to be looking to move up, but with the recent news surrounding Deebo Samuel, they could be drafting in the first round after all, and the New England Patriots could be a trade partner.
Samuel informed the team that he would like a trade last week, putting the 49ers in a tough spot.
He is one of the most physical, tough and versatile offensive weapons in the NFL. It sounded as if Samuel wasn’t thrilled about his usage, which could mean he doesn’t want to be used as a running back and would prefer to be a wide receiver exclusively.
If longevity is what Samuel has on his mind, playing less running back makes sense. Their shelf life is considerably lower than those of wide receivers and he was certainly trending as more of a running back down the stretch of the 2021 regular season and postseason.
While the 49ers don’t want to trade away their star wide receiver, it sounds like something they have to seriously consider. They are going to get a ton of offers for him leading up to the draft. If they get the impression that nothing can be worked out, they will have to pull the trigger on a deal.
Based on what we’ve seen already this offseason when it comes to star wide receiver trades, the 49ers can demand at least a first-round pick in return. Another mid-round pick at least would be required.
One team that shouldn’t be counted out is the New England Patriots. They made a trade for DeVante Parker earlier this offseason, but could still be in the market to add more talent around the second-year quarterback, Mac Jones.
New England could offer the 49ers picks No. 21, 85 and 183 in exchange for Samuel. That 21st pick may be a little low for San Francisco, as an immediate replacement for Samuel may not be on the board at that time. If they do trade the South Carolina product, they will look to draft his replacement immediately, much as they did with DeForest Buckner a few years ago.
Alas, it would be a bit surprising to see the Patriots get into a bidding war over Samuel. Sending out a premium draft pick and then handing a player a lucrative contract near the top of the market, which Samuel would command, is not New England’s style under Bill Belichick.
But, New England will do their due diligence and at least kick the tires on trade talks. They would never turn away a chance to add someone as talented as Deebo Samuel to the roster, but the price is likely something they are not willing to meet.