On Wednesday, the San Francisco 49ers-Deebo Samuel sage took another dramatic turn when ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that Samuel formally requested a trade. However, while there was an ocean of reaction to the news, multiple reports that followed suggested the Niners, at least for now, have no intention of honoring his request.
CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reported that people within the New York Jets organization, a team that has seemed like an obvious potential landing spot for Samuel, believed that the 49ers will not trade their top wide receiver “unless San Francisco gets a King’s ransom.”
Jets beat writer Connor Hughes of The Athletic reiterated a similar sentiment later. Hughes reported that a source told him, “[Samuel] ain’t getting out.” Hughes added, “While Deebo Samuel can scream to the high heavens RE trade, #49ers have him under contract for this year & next (tag). Samuel won’t forfeit that money. Leverage is with San Francisco.”
Samuel is clearly frustrated with the 49ers and is trying to force their hand. Samuel wants a contract that pays him close to what he’s worth as a player. By requesting a trade, he hopes to spark a better offer from the Niners or receive a trade to a team that will pay him what he wants.
With that said, as Hughes points out, if the 49ers refuse to honor Samuel’s request, there’s not much else he can do. If he were to hold out this season, his contract would toll, keeping him under the 49ers team control for an additional season under his rookie-scale contract. But, of course, things could change if Samuel decides to be as big a headache as possible. If he’s willing to participate in team activities and behave dramatically to make things uncomfortable for the team, the Niners may not have as much leverage as they think.
Negotiations are a game of leverage, and the 49ers are in two major negotiations right now. One, with Samuel, which appears to be going quite poorly. And another with the other teams in the NFL that would be interested in acquiring him in a trade. It will be difficult to diagnose how the Niners are fairing in those negotiations unless a deal gets done.
It’s been the story of the 49ers' offseason with Jimmy Garoppolo, and it’s now where things have gotten with Samuel: the only thing to do is wait and see.