The week's biggest news is Deebo Samuel not doing any on-field work during the first part of the 49ers’ offseason program without a new deal. Some fans have cited George Kittle and Fred Warner as examples of players who “did it right” and ultimately were rewarded with new contracts. On today’s Oh, Hey There! Podcast, Javier Vega explained why those situations aren’t exactly apples-to-apples comparisons.
“I don’t blame Deebo if he doesn’t work out...George Kittle was in a completely different situation with the COVID offseason after the Super Bowl. Fred Warner’s situation kind of was just really quick. He was eligible for an extension and it was just, boom, done. Deebo’s in a little different situation. You have an offseason filled with a lot of movement. You have an offseason filled with wide receivers on the move.”
Two years ago, the team didn’t physically reconvene until training camp (and even that was delayed). So while Kittle may have talked a good game, he also knew that all he had to do was hop in a zoom meeting, and he’d be participating in the offseason program - not exactly a lot of physical risks there. Now, would he have shown up if COVID wasn’t a thing? Maybe, but we’ll never know. We do know things were not always great during the negotiations. Ultimately, the pandemic eliminated the decision to participate in on-field activities for him.
On the other hand, Warner never seemed as upset about his contract as either Kittle or Samuel. As Javier said, things seemed to get done fairly quickly with him without any drama whatsoever. That’s part of the reason why Warner is so beloved by this fan base. But just because he did things that way doesn’t mean every player will.
Looming over all of this, of course, is the fact that multiple players at Deebo’s position have gotten paid this offseason. Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, hell, Christian Kirk have all signed massive new deals. With every one of those contracts, Deebo’s current deal looks more and more out of whack. It’s only natural for Samuel to want a deal commensurate with the new market-rate at his position.
If Kittle had seen multiple tight ends reset the market in the same offseason, he was looking to get a new deal, that would have mattered. Same thing with Fred Warner. Samuel also showed a lot of unselfishness by moving to running back halfway through the season last year - even though he knew he’d want a new deal this offseason. Deebo took on that additional injury risk to put the team on his back, and now he wants to be rewarded for doing so.
So, while things might look similar on the surface between Deebo, Kittle, and Warner, the situations are not as aligned as they seem.