Jaguars were right to pass on exorbitant price for Brandon Aiyuk

• Brandon Aiyuk wants an exorbitant contract extension. It's a good thing the Jaguars don't have to deal with it.
Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars explored the possibility of trading for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk early in the offseason. However, the San Francisco 49ers' steep price, along with Aiyuk's eventual contract extension made the Jags quickly lose interest. San Francisco would like to get a deal done with Aiyuk as soon as possible but based on his salary demands, they might have trouble pulling it off.

Aiyuk is currently skipping Organized Team Activities in hopes he'll get an extension. He's reportedly seeking a contract that will pay him as much as Amon-Ra St. Brown, who got a four-year deal worth $120 million from the Detroit Lions.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan says he would like Aiyuk to partake in OTAs but points out that they're voluntary, so he's not overly concerned about his absence.

San Francisco is already paying receiver Deebo Samuel top market money. Add the fact that they'll prioritize giving third-year quarterback Brock Purdy an extension as soon as he's eligible(2025), and they may not be able to retain Aiyuk, who's entering the last year of his rookie deal.

Early in the offseason, the Jags inquired about Aiyuk. They were looking for a potential replacement for Calvin Ridley, who bolted for the division rival Tennessee Titans. The 49ers were asking for their first-round pick (17th overall), and wide receiver Zay Jones, who at the time was on the roster. The cost might've been too much for Jacksonville, as they stopped pursuing the 2023 Second-Team All-Pro nod.

The Jaguars were right to pass on Brandon Aiyuk, draft Brian Thomas Jr.

Brandon Aiyuk would've given the Jacksonville Jaguars a bonafide WR1, but trading for him would've been cost-prohibitive. On top of parting ways with their first-round pick, they would've had to give him a top-market extension. Instead, they turned to the draft and selected Brian Thomas Jr. All things considered, it was the right call.

Contracts for rookies are fixed and unaltered. In Thomas Jr.'s case, he'll earn around $14 million over the next four years. That's less than what Aiyuk would make in a year ($30 million) if he gets the contract he wants. Granted, he's a proven commodity, unlike Thomas, but trading for him was unfeasible.

For the sake of argument, let's say Jacksonville had traded for Aiyuk, giving Trevor Lawrence an extension before the regular season, which seems realistic, might not have been doable. Similarly, the front office would probably have a hard time locking up players such as safety Andre Cisco, who's in line for a new contract.

When you factor in that the Jaguars also managed to get three extra selections when they traded down in the first round, drafting Thomas was the right call. So far, the team's brass is pleased with the rookie receiver. Meanwhile, Aiyuk is nowhere to be found but that's something the 49ers will have to deal with.

The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars should pleased with how things turned out. They could be dealing with Brandon Aiyuk's contract impasse. Instead, they have a potential playmaker in Brian Thomas Jr.

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