As 49ers fans wait with bated breath on word of a Deebo Samuel contract extension, there has been no shortage of opinions on the matter from those in and around the NFL.
NBC Sports’ Peter King was the latest to weigh in on the drama surrounding Samuel, which most recently saw the wide receiver mysteriously scrub all traces of the 49ers from his Instagram account on Thursday.
If Samuel is demanding top dollar, King said, San Francisco is in quite the conundrum.
“I think the Niners are going to be in a quandary if Deebo Samuel insists on getting paid top of market, and getting paid now,” King wrote in his latest “Football Morning in America” column. “They might not be able to do that.”
Samuel is entering the final year of his rookie contract and currently ranks 20th among players on the team’s payroll, with an average pay of $1.81 million per year. General manager John Lynch has made it clear this offseason that the 49ers’ front office is prioritizing extensions for their “wide back” Samuel as well as defensive end Nick Bosa.
Getting both deals done at the same time could prove difficult, as the 49ers still have quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract on the books after failing to trade him so far this offseason. And with the possibility of Garoppolo remaining on the roster, Samuel’s negotiations for an extension could prove all the more tricky.
King believes Samuel has proven his value to the 49ers, especially after his breakout 2021 campaign, but doesn’t think his stats quite line up with top-receiver money.
“Yes, I saw what he did over the last half of this season -- Samuel was the MVP of a Final Four team in the playoffs,” King said. “But his average receiving season over the past two years (55 catches, 898 yards) is dwarfed, for instance, by [Stefon] Diggs’ average over the past two years (115 catches, 1,380 yards).”
To be fair, Samuel followed up his impressive 2019 rookie campaign (57 catches, 802 yards) by missing nine games in 2020 due to injury. He showed what he could do in 2021 when fully healthy, finishing with 1,405 yards on 77 catches and 365 rushing yards on 59 carries during the regular season. Eight of Samuel’s 14 touchdowns in 2021 came via the run, showcasing a diverse skill set rarely seen in the NFL.
Still, King isn’t sure if that’s enough.
“Even when adding in the run-game impact, the stats are iffy,” he said. “But Samuel has to be thinking: If they’re going to ask me to take the beating a running back takes, while asking me to be the deep threat for a playoff team, that’s something you don’t measure in stats.”
As receivers around the league continue to sign high-paying contracts, a potential deal with Samuel could take some serious compromise from both sides.
“Dealing with Samuel is going to test the will and negotiating skill of GM John Lynch,” King said.