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A strange but increasingly common kerfuffle erupted on X over the weekend, when a report emerged that 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk “has officially requested a trade from the 49ers, per confirmation from my San Francisco source.”

Aiyuk’s agent, Ryan Williams, responded to the claim with this: “You need better sources.”

Williams is right. Aiyuk has not “officially requested a trade.” He doesn’t need to.

With Aiyuk unfollowing the 49ers on social media, any team that has any interest in Aiyuk has reason to call the 49ers.

Several weeks ago, such calls were met (we’re told) with a response that Aiyuk isn’t available. At this point, with the draft 10 days ago and the situation still unresolved, why not make the call again?

There’s also reason to believe that, even though Aiyuk hasn’t requested a trade, conversations might be happening to determine whether other team(s) are interested in making a deal — with the knowledge and approval of the 49ers.

That could be useful to the 49ers. It could give both sides useful information as to what his market might be.

The biggest challenge for the 49ers and Aiyuk will be setting his number. He presumably (and justifiably) will want the same deal the 49ers gave to receiver Deebo Samuel, at a minimum.

It makes sense for the 49ers to figure this out now. Pay Aiyuk or trade him to someone who will, and get 2024 draft-pick compensation for him.

Trading him would fly in the face of the entire purpose of the draft/development model. Teams select players with the hope that they’ll become key members of the team. Aiyuk has; he was a second-team All-Pro in 2023. Why trade him?

The best-case scenario is that they’d flip Aiyuk for a rookie who ends up being pretty good, too. And then they’ll have to pay him, or trade him and do it all over again.

If the draft is a lottery and each player is a lottery ticket, Aiyuk was a winner. The difference for the NFL is that the jackpot then gets paid by the holder of the ticket. It’s time for the 49ers, or someone else, to give Aiyuk his jackpot.


The 2024 free-agency frenzy, which started five weeks ago today, included plenty of veteran quarterbacks. Next March, there could be even more.

Already, three starting quarterbacks from 2023 playoff teams are entering the final year of their current contracts: Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, Lions quarterback Jared Goff, and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

The franchise tag will be available for Goff and Tagovailoa. Prescott, without a new deal, will hit the market.

Then there’s Steelers quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, the two top quarterbacks for a 2023 playoff team that blew up the depth chart. Both are due to be free agents in 2025.

Plenty of others could be available, if they are released from current deals. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, Saints quarterback Derek Carr, and Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers land squarely in that bucket. (Rodgers has said that everyone is on the hot seat in New York this year, including him.)

Other names to watch include Trey Lance, Sam Darnold, Jacoby Brissett, Drew Lock, Marcus Mariota, Zach Wilson, Mike White, Jake Browning, Case Keenum, Davis Mills, Mac Jones, Mason Rudolph, Carson Wentz, Jarrett Stidham, Jameis Winston, Joe Flacco, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Andy Dalton.

There’s one other name to watch. Deshaun Watson. If he doesn’t give the Browns a significant return in the third year of his five-year, fully guaranteed deal, will the Browns move on?

If they do, they’ll definitely have options to replace him, either from free agency or the draft.


Monday is the day to settle up with Uncle Sam for his chunk of the money you made while working in 2023. It’s also the day on which 25 teams will officially commence their work for 2024.

Seven teams have gotten started on the offseason program. The rest open up on Monday.

It’s a three-phase process. The first phase entails the least amount of football work. It’s basically lifting and conditioning and meetings.

For most of the teams, it also will mean press availability from coaches and players. Interesting quotes could come from Buffalo and Houston, given the surprising trade of receiver Stefon Diggs.

In Pittsburgh, Russell Wilson and Justin Fields will officially start their time as Steelers. Wilson, as coach Mike Tomlin has said, is in the pole position for the starting job. For Fields, the race to supplant Wilson starts tomorrow.

In Kansas City, will receiver Rashee Rice be present? Whether he is or isn’t, what will the Chiefs have to say about his legal situation?

While there’s still a long way to go until football season starts, tomorrow is the most tangible turning of the page toward the 2024 season. For more than 75 percent of the league, it’s the first day of a journey that all of them hope will end 10 months from now in New Orleans.


Former Steelers receiver Hines Ward, the MVP of Super Bowl XL, will continue his coaching career in a new place.

Ward will become the receivers coach at Arizona State, according to Pete Thamel of ESPN.com.

Most recently, Ward served as head coach of the San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL. He was not retained following the merger of the XFL and USFL into the UFL.

Ward’s retirement began with a broadcasting stint at NBC. He then worked for CNN.

In 2017, he entered coaching, as an intern with the Steelers. He then spent two years as an offensive assistant with the Jets and one year as receivers coach at Florida Atlantic before heading to the XFL.

Former Patriots receiver and Patriots assistant coach Troy Brown was also a candidate for the Arizona State job.


Free agent cornerback Levi Wallace is visiting the Broncos on Friday, Jordan Schultz of the Bleacher Report reports.

Wallace, 28, spent the past two seasons with the Steelers.

In 2023, he totaled two interceptions, 11 pass breakups and 38 tackles in 16 games, nine of which were starts.

He has 12 interceptions and 54 passes defensed in his five seasons.

Wallace began his career in Buffalo, spending four seasons with the Bills and making 52 starts.