What a Steelers-49ers trade for Brandon Aiyuk would look like

The Pittsburgh Steelers 'have looked into' acquiring San Francisco 49ers wideout Brandon Aiyuk.

Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers need WR help after trading Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers. One potential solution is San Francisco 49ers malcontent Brandon Aiyuk, who continues to stew without a contract extension in the final year of his deal. The Steelers "have looked into" a potential trade, per Andrew Fillipponi of 97.3 The Fan.

Aiyuk, 26, put together the best season of his career in 2023. He shredded defenses opposite Deebo Samuel in Kyle Shanahan's dynamic offense, even stepping admirably into the WR1 role when Samuel dealt with injuries down the stretch. Aiyuk finished the campaign with 75 receptions for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch.

Pittsburgh's offense, especially compared to San Francisco, was rather tepid. Aiyuk's explosiveness in the open field could be just what the doctor ordered. It remains to be seen how the QB hierarchy settles between Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, but Aiyuk is a tremendous route-runner who can rip off huge gains after the catch.

He's even flirting with the Steelers on Twitter.

For the record, Aiyuk does look a lot like Mike Tomlin. Maybe it's destiny.

The only hangup is, as always, the logistics of actually making a trade. Aiyuk is in the final year of his contract. He won't want to go somewhere if the organization isn't willing to offer him the extension that San Francisco is hesitant to embark on. So, the Steelers would be trading for Aiyuk and, for all intents and purposes, agreeing to extend him.

Jerry Jeudy just set the WR market sky-high by inking a massive three-year, $58 million extension with the Cleveland Browns. Jeudy's deal even includes $41 million guaranteed. I don't want to oversimplify the matter, but Aiyuk is better than Jeudy with actual postseason experience on his resumé. So, one has to believe that Aiyuk will use such a fact as leverage in potential negotiations.

Are the Steelers willing to hand Aiyuk $60 million-plus to operate opposite George Pickens? If yes, here's what a trade could look like.

Potential Steelers-49ers trade for Brandon Aiyuk


It's hard to get a firm grasp on Aiyuk's trade value with the contract situation hanging over his head, but again, the Steelers don't make this trade without a plan in place to keep him around for a few years, at the very least.

Aiyuk would drastically improve the Steelers' offensive outlook. As the free agent market dries up, Pittsburgh's best options to supplement Pickens tend to involve hypothetical trades. Other flashy targets are floating out in the ether — Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, etc. — but Aiyuk is probably the most realistic, Pro Bowl-level target for the Steelers.

Maybe Pittsburgh sits tight and opts to draft a WR in the first round. That is one of the deepest positions in the 2024 NFL Draft, especially at the top. But, this Steelers team is built to win now. Mike Tomlin has famously never finished below .500, and there is growing pressure on Pittsburgh to exceed the pervasive mediocrity of recent seasons. So, odds are the Steelers would prefer a more established WR2 to hopefully bring the best out of Pickens and the rest of Arthur Smith's new-look offense.

The Steelers should absolutely get on the phone and put in an offer. Aiyuk can get lost in the background when watching the Niners' offense — it's easy to focus one's attention on Christian McCaffrey or Deebo Samuel — but the 2020 first-round pick is quietly one of the most potent pass-catchers in the NFL.

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