49ers’ possible Deebo Samuel trade decision nears finish line

49ers’ decision on possible Deebo trade nears finish line originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

It could happen at just about any point during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Or, it could not happen at all.

Whatever occurs on Thursday evening will likely provide the most clarity into the weeks-long drama involving Deebo Samuel and the 49ers.

General manager John Lynch said this week he “can’t envision a scenario” in which the 49ers would trade away their top offensive player.

But…

“We’ve been consistent since we’ve been here in that we listen on just about anyone,” Lynch said. “That’s something we’ll always do. But like I said, I can’t ever imagine moving on from Deebo. He’s been such a great player for us. He means so much to this franchise. I’ve got nothing but love for the guy.”

Basically, what Lynch said was that he did not foresee any team coming up to the level of compensation that would convince the 49ers to trade Samuel, who figures to sign a new contract this offseason that pays him from $22 million to $25 million annually.

The New York Jets appear to be the best-situated organization to make a move for Samuel.

The Jets have more than $17 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. Coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur were on the 49ers’ staff for the first two seasons of Samuel’s NFL career. They know him well.

Whatever the issues behind Samuel’s discontent with the 49ers, you can be sure Saleh and LaFleur have a good understanding of the disconnect and believe they can provide him with a satisfactory environment.

That is why hearts will be racing once the No. 9 overall pick in the draft is made Thursday.

The Jets own the No. 4 selection, and they are not expected to select a wide receiver (nor are they likely to part ways with that pick to acquire Samuel).

When the Jets go on the clock again at No. 10, anything could happen. It would seem to be the sweet spot for any potential trade to acquire Samuel.

Of course, there are other points through the mid-first round where a deal could happen. The Baltimore Ravens have the 14th pick, while the Philadelphia Eagles have first-round selections at Nos. 15 and 18.

If no deal is completed Thursday, it would seem to suggest the 49ers believe the sides will reconcile and Samuel can still have a long-term future with the organization.

Samuel has not revealed the reasons for his current discontent with the organization. The problems seemingly bubbled to the surface only after the conclusion of the season.

All sides can agree he is vastly underpaid and the situation needs to be corrected before he steps on the field again.

RELATED: Non-WRs 49ers could target at No. 10 if Deebo traded to Jets

Samuel made $1.145 million last year. His contract calls for a salary of $3.936 million in 2022. This comes at a time when the wide receiver market has exploded. Samuel can easily command a contract worth five or six times more than his current scheduled pay.

Samuel will sign a new contract at some point this offseason. But with which team? We should know a lot more after Thursday.

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