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    Are Deebo Samuel Sr.’s Days With the 49ers Numbered? Examining the WR’s Future in San Francisco

    Is Deebo Samuel Sr. entering his final season with the 49ers? John Lynch and his staff will have some tough decisions to make in the near future.

    Deebo Samuel Sr. has been one of the more dominant and unique offensive weapons in the NFL since being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2019.

    Now, though, as the 49ers’ salary cap situation becomes harder and harder to manage, could Samuel have played his last down with the team that drafted him, or is a resolution possible heading into training camp?

    Deebo Samuel Sr.’s Future in San Francisco

    Throughout the 2024 season, Samuel’s future in San Francisco appeared to be clouded.

    With his large cap hit this season, and the team’s increasingly difficult future cap numbers, the 49ers are nearing a point where they will have to make some tough decisions and prioritize certain stars over others.

    At one point this offseason, it appeared Samuel was going to be traded. As late as Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft, the 49ers were fielding calls about trading the All-Pro offensive weapon as a way to free up cap space and create room for first-round rookie Ricky Pearsall.

    Following the draft, general manager John Lynch gave an impassioned speech about trying to keep his star-studded roster intact.

    “I love our roster. I love the way it’s comprised. … I’m doing everything in my power to keep our roster together,” Lynch said. “That’s my goal.”

    For the most part, it seems that San Francisco is more than willing to wait out Samuel’s contract to this point, and they even opted against some of the offers they received for the veteran.

    But is it possible that Samuel gets moved during the 2024 season or 2025 offseason? At that point, it may be a little easier to move the South Carolina product given his contract.

    Breaking Down Samuel’s Contract

    In July 2022, Samuel signed a three-year, $73.5 million deal with the 49ers to keep the All-Pro receiver in the Bay area. The extension carried over $58 million in guaranteed money and seemed to kick the can of his contract down the road a bit.

    Entering the 2024 season, though, the 49ers know they have a decision to make with Samuel. He carries a $20.9 million base salary, and a cap hit of over $28 million — the third-highest in the NFL at the receiver position behind only Cooper Kupp and Tyreek Hill.

    MORE: Who Are the NFL’s Highest-Paid Wide Receivers?

    There is an out in his contract following the upcoming season that will allow San Francisco to move on by paying a $15 million dead cap charge. Outside of that out, though, Samuel does have an additional year on his deal in 2025 that would lower both his cap hit and base salary, should the 49ers opt to keep him on the roster.

    Of course, that’s why Samuel is on the lookout for a new deal again, but he’s not the only San Francisco wideout who’s looking for a new contract.

    49ers Have Some Tough Decisions to Make

    Things may seem OK for San Francisco right now when it comes to their cap number, but things are about to get a whole lot worse in the coming years. To start, while they have around $31 million in cap space this season, next year, they are projected to be over the cap by more than $38 million, according to Over The Cap’s projections.

    What does that mean? It means that the Niners will need to let go of some of their bigger contracts in order to be cap-compliant.

    As one of the best teams in football, a lot of those big contracts will be tied to players who are among the best at their position. Samuel is one of those players, and his receiving mate Brandon Aiyuk is as well.

    At one point during the 2024 NFL Draft, Samuel and Aiyuk were both on the trade block even though a deal could not be reached.

    Aiyuk has openly stated his desire to receive a long-term deal as he enters the final year of his rookie contract with San Francisco.

    As the negotiating process has continued, the former Arizona State product has made it clear that he wants to get his money, regardless of which team inevitably pays him.

    While appearing on the “Pivot Podcast” with former safety Ryan Clark, Aiyuk detailed his desire to play for another team if the 49ers can’t give him the offer he wants. He specifically mentioned the Washington Commanders and Pittsburgh Steelers as potential suitors if he cannot reach an agreement with San Francisco.

    There’s also the reality that quarterback Brock Purdy, who has helped lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl in his second season after being the last pick in the NFL Draft in 2022, could be in line for a massive contract extension next offseason.

    KEEP READING: 2024 NFL Wide Receiver Rankings: Where Does Samuel Rank?

    With quarterback contracts ballooning out of control, and no fifth-year option to mitigate it, the reality is that someone is going to be the odd man out in the 49ers receiving room — or roster as a whole — eventually.

    San Francisco may seem focused on keeping Samuel and Aiyuk together, but keeping both elite wide receivers beyond this season may not be in the cards.

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