Cause of Deebo’s apparent dissatisfaction open to interpretation originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Deebo Samuel is not happy with the 49ers.
Or, at best, he is fine with everyone believing he is not happy with the 49ers.
This is the new age of relationships when a player might express his dissatisfaction with his employer via actions on social media. That generally includes unfollowing the team’s official accounts and removing all content in which he appears in his team’s uniform.
That was the case recently with Samuel, who emerged as one of the NFL’s breakout stars during the 2021 season en route to being selected as a first-team All-Pro wide receiver.
Samuel bounced back from an unproductive, injury-riddled 2020 season to catch 77 passes for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns in the regular season. After injuries in the 49ers’ backfield created a need, Samuel stepped in and rushed for 365 yards and eight touchdowns.
In three postseason games, Samuel had 154 yards and a touchdown receiving to go along with 137 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Teams are not allowed to touch the contract of a drafted player until after his third season. This is the first time the 49ers can enter into talks on a multi-year contract.
Things seem to be setting up nicely for Samuel. And both sides figured to negotiate a contract in which some clear markers have been set on the low and high ends.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed receiver Chris Godwin to a three-year, $60 million extension. Godwin is a five-year veteran who registered 3,276 yards and 21 touchdowns in 40 games over the past three seasons. He continues to rehab from a torn ACL he sustained in Week 15.
So a deal that averages $20 million per season would seem to be the low range on Samuel’s next contract.
Tyreek Hill, acquired by the Miami Dolphins in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, signed what is functionally a four-year, $95.435 million contract ($23.85 million per season). Davante Adams went from Green Bay to Las Vegas in a trade. The Raiders came through with a deal that pencils out to three years, $67.5 million ($22.5 million per season).
The Buffalo Bills last week signed Stefon Diggs to an extension that could amount to three years, $96 million ($22.67 million annually).
It is difficult to justify Samuel’s next deal reaching the ranges of Adams, Hill and Diggs. After all, those players have been among of the league’s most-explosive and consistent receivers over the past half-dozen seasons.
Logically, Samuel’s next contract should amount to somewhere from $20 million to $22 million annually. There. That’s the easy part.
But each organization has its own philosophy on how to distribute money to certain positions.
Kansas City and Green Bay, teams with windows remaining open for championships, made decisions this offseason to not pay their top receivers. Both teams raked in significant draft hauls in trades and decided on redistributing the money saved into other areas of the roster.
With quality receivers entering the NFL every year — and this draft appears to be no different — the Chiefs and Packers decided it makes sense for them to look to the draft for younger, less-expensive replacements.
The 49ers’ roster already consists of the league’s top-paid offensive lineman (Trent Williams), tight end (George Kittle) and fullback (Kyle Juszczyk), as well as the NFL’s second-highest paid linebacker (Fred Warner).
Samuel’s next contract could land him among the NFL’s top-five paid wide receivers. And the club has to think about getting defensive end Nick Bosa signed down the road on a deal that could make him the highest-paid player on the team.
The 49ers’ decision-makers have stated their intentions to keep Samuel and Bosa with the team for the foreseeable future. As recently as two weeks ago at the NFL Annual Meeting, general manager John Lynch promised Samuel and Bosa are going nowhere.
“We have a plan for each of those guys,” Lynch said. “We will keep those discussions private but like I’ve long said, those guys are going to be a part of us for a long, long time. They’re fantastic players. They are very much at the core of who we are and they are fabulous players, fabulous people and a big part of who we are.”
There has been no indication the 49ers are openly shopping Samuel in a trade. But coach Kyle Shanahan said it himself a year ago: Nobody on the team is off-limits for trade discussions. He and Lynch would consider any legitimate offer.
This topic came up when the 49ers traded up to No. 3 overall, and made its intention known that they planned to retain quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for at least one more season unless another team came calling with an offer too good to pass up.
“Yeah, that’s accurate with every player on our team, I mean, probably including myself,” Shanahan said. “If someone blows us away with a trade for me, I bet you John would trade me.”
The 49ers proved two years ago they were willing to trade away the best player on the team for the right price. Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, coming off a season in which he won the Bill Walsh Award as the team MVP, was shockingly dealt to the Indianapolis Colts in March 2020 for a first-round draft pick.
Agent Tory Dandy, who represents Samuel, did not immediately respond Monday morning to NBC Sports Bay Area’s request for clarification on his client’s apparent dissatisfaction.
Samuel is speaking loudly via social media.
But, at this point, what he’s saying is entirely open to interpretation.