Just days before the 2022 NFL Draft, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel shook things up by requesting a trade. While many believe this is about money, the circumstances resulting in his displeasure with the 49ers’ organization might be something else.
Samuel emerged as the most important player in San Francisco’s offense this past season. He set an NFL record for single-season rushing touchdowns by a wide receiver (eight) and racked up over 1,400 receiving yards in 16 games.
A second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, selected 26th overall, the 6-foot receiver is in the final year of his rookie deal. On the verge of becoming one of the top NFL free agents in 2023, there’s an opportunity to cash in with life-changing money.
- Deebo Samuel stats (2021): 1,770 scrimmage yards, 13.0 yards per touch, 14 total touchdowns
The boom of new contracts for wide receivers shook up the order of the highest paid NFL players. Samuel, who earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2021, has earned a massive contract. While the 49ers might be willing to offer it, they aren’t the team Samuel wants to play for on his next deal.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport shared on the Pat McAfee Show that Samuel has not received a contract offer from the 49ers. In regards to why that’s the case, Rapoport believes the All-Pro receiver told San Francisco not to make him an offer because he wants out.
“From my understanding, Deebo Samuel basically told the 49ers I want to be traded & don’t make an offer.. I don’t think this is about the money”NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s trade request
Why does Deebo Samuel want to be traded?
While Samuel hasn’t publicly revealed why he wants to be traded this offseason, preferring not to play another snap for the 49ers, multiple reports point to two reasons.
First, he doesn’t like his role in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. While Samuel embraced his role as an all-purpose weapon in 2021, it’s not good for longevity. Being used as a running back exposes him to more hits, increasing the chances of him suffering a significant injury or his play declining faster with age.
Samuel wants to be a full-time receiver, used in the slot and outside like so many of his peers. While jet sweeps and the occasional handoff out of the backfield can be part of his role, he likely doesn’t want to be carrying the ball 60-plus times a season moving forward.
However, it’s not the only reason he might want out of San Francisco. Chris Simms shared on Pro Football Talk that there is a belief in the NFL that Samuel no longer wants to play in California. He grew up in South Carolina, became an All-American for the Gamecocks and wants to be closer to home.
If those two factors are driving this, the 49ers likely won’t have many options. It’s possible they could try and convince Samuel to play out the 2022 season before becoming a free agent in 2023. If he refuses and Shanahan doesn’t want to trade his best player to another contender, things could get complicated for both sides.