San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel has reportedly "dug in" following his trade request, but interested teams don't see any urgency from the Niners to trade him before the 2022 NFL draft gets underway Thursday.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported an update on the situation Tuesday on SportsCenter after 49ers general manager John Lynch said Monday he "can't ever imagine moving on from Deebo":
"I checked in with people in the 49ers organization. They said John Lynch's words are very sincere, that in reality they couldn't break the huddle last year without Deebo Samuel. He was their team MVP. People I've talked to, that's how they speak of him. He's very highly thought of there, so they really do not want to trade him. They're not highly motivated to do so. It just comes down to, in the next 48 hours are they going to get a deal that they can't refuse before that first round. The New York Jets are motivated to get pass-catching help. They got the fourth and 10th overall picks; perhaps they could package something. There is interest, but I'm told even teams that have called believe that the 49ers are likely not going to deal him. The [Detroit] Lions have some interest. Green Bay Packers have a little bit of interest. Something has to give. I'm told Deebo Samuel is really dug in here, he wants to be out, so it just depends if the 49ers feel like this is going to get ugly before it gets better and let's move on."
The Niners are in a difficult position because they developed a highly productive role for Samuel as a dual-threat playmaker within their offense, and they are coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship Game, so they are in win-now mode.
Even though this year's draft class features a strong group of receivers—six or more could land in Round 1—trying to get a rookie to emulate all the things Samuel did within the offense last year would be difficult.
The 26-year-old University of South Carolina product recorded 1,700 yards from scrimmage (1,405 receiving and 365 rushing) with 15 total touchdowns (eight rushing, six receiving and one passing) across 16 games last season.
He was voted first-team All-Pro and earned his first Pro Bowl selection while receiving a strong 87.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
Samuel is entering the final year of his rookie contract, but the Niners could use the franchise tag to keep him for 2023, so making a trade is not a time-sensitive decision.
The only way for the wideout to create leverage would be by threatening to hold out of training camp and potentially beyond. He hasn't said whether that's on the table.
Samuel told ESPN's Jeff Darlington he'd informed the front office he wanted a trade, but he declined to discuss specifics.
The Jets make the most sense as a potential trade partner.
New York owns two top-10 picks, one of which could serve as the cornerstone of a trade package, and it has long been searching for a No. 1 receiver. It'd also be a deal that moves Samuel out of the NFC, which would likely be preferred by the Niners.
It doesn't sound like San Francisco is eagerly working the phones to get a deal done, though. Unless a team makes an offer Lynch and Co. can't refuse, an extended staredown with Samuel could be on the horizon.