The Jacksonville Jaguars will need to make changes to several position groups next offseason. Wide receiver could be one of them if they decide to let Calvin Ridley walk in free agency. Alex Kay of Bleacher Report believes Brandon Aiyuk could be a good replacement for Ridley if he leaves. There's just one caveat, Aiyuk's contract with the San Francisco 49ers runs through 2024.
Kay put together a list of trades that make too much sense to happen and believes Jacksonville would be a good spot for Aiyuk, noting that they could use reinforcements at wide receiver. Although the Jags already have a draft pick committed to Ridley, Kay argues that trading picks in Rounds 1 and 3 for Aiyuk is worth it.
"If Aiyuk becomes available, the Jaguars should be extremely interested. The team already has a major decision to make with Calvin Ridley, the team's No. 1 wideout who is set to hit free agency after the season. If the Jaguars opt to extend Ridley, the move would cost them a second-round pick as part of his trade conditions.
Jacksonville could instead allocate that type of capital toward the acquisition of Aiyuk, who will likely cost a first-round pick plus additional draft selections. The Jags could even consider going all-in on the receiver position, locking both Ridley and Aiyuk up on long-term deals."
Aiyuk is most definitely a playmaker. A first-round pick in 2020, he's posted back-to-back 1,000 seasons the past two years. Somehow he's managed to shine despite the fact that he needs to share the spotlight with fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel, running back Christian McCaffrey, and tight end George Kittle.
You could even argue that Aiyuk was snubbed from the playoffs after crossing the 1,300-yard mark this season. Kevin Patra of NFL Media certainly believes that was the case. In Jacksonville, he would join a group of skill-position players that includes running back Travis Etienne, wide receiver Christian Kirk, and tight end Evan Engram.
Also, Aiyuk would be a stellar replacement for Ridley if the Jaguars decide not to renew him and Zay Jones becomes a cap casualty. On the other hand, there are a few reasons a trade may not be feasible.
Trading for Brandon Aiyuk is cost-prohibitive for the Jaguars
As good as Aiyuk is, the Jaguars may want to pass out on the chance to trade for him. First of all, they'll need to give the Atlanta Falcons a second-round pick if they re-sign Ridley, a third if he hits the open market. Either way, they'll already be allocating picks to another player. Add the hypothetical first and third that would be needed to land Aiyuk, and Jacksonville may not be a realistic trade partner.
This isn't ideal when you take into account that the team's brass needs to address both offensive lines and their pass rush rotation. Also, a first may be too steep a price to pay for Aiyuk. Last year, there was no demand at the position, and Tee Higgins and Hunter Renfrow were available but they ultimately stayed put, as no market materialized for their services.
The receivers that did change teams were exchanged for late-round selections. Denzel Mims, Mecole Hardman, Van Jefferson, Chase Claypool, and Brandin Cooks all cost a sixth-round pick. While none of them are in the same echelon as Aiyuk, it's hard to see a team fetching a first-rounder for him when Mike Evans and Tee Higgins are set to hit the open market.
And that's the thing. On the off chance the Jaguars do decide to part ways with Ridley, they could easily acquire Evans or Higgins without having to give up any compensation. This is to say that Aiyuk would be a great addition to Jacksonville, but there may be better options out there.
The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars could go after a wide receiver in the offseason, but Brandon Aiyuk won't probably be one of them.