Immediately after a report Deebo Samuel has asked the 49ers to trade him, the Detroit Lions surfaced as a possible suitor.
A wild NFL offseason shows no signs of stopping. According to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, wide receiver Deebo Samuel has asked the San Francisco 49ers to trade him. He’s clearly looking for a new contract, entering the final year of his rookie deal, and for what it’s worth the team has said it’d like to keep him for a long time.
Samuel set career-highs in 2021 with 77 catches for 1,405 yards (a league-best 18.2 yards per catch) and six touchdowns. But he was much more than a pass catcher in the 49ers’ offense last year, adding 59 carries for 365 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Now, he’d like to join the party of skyrocketing wide receiver salaries as a reflection of his importance to San Francisco’s offense.
On the heels of Darlington’s report, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport offered a few teams to watch as possible trade suitors for Samuel. The Lions made the list, as they tend to when a notable receiver might be available.
The list of teams who’d have a level of interest in Samuel is certainly longer than four, and Rapoport is engaging in speculation. But it may be informed speculation, so it’s worth noting in the vacuum of an “insider” offering it.
Would the Detroit Lions make an offer for Deebo Samuel?
A couple Lions’ beat reporters have offered nuggets regarding the Lions and Samuel.
Samuel is a unique player, perhaps only limited by an offensive coordinator’s imagination. As Justin Rogers of the Detroit News pointed to, the Lions could surrender the No. 32 and No. 34 picks in next week’s draft (at least?) and then they’d have to pony up a contract extension in the $25 million a year range. Having a second first-round pick again in 2023 is an interesting element to add. Would No. 32 this year and one of next year’s first-rounders, with another later pick added, bring Samuel to Detroit?
A trade surrendering high-end draft capital would be against the grain for this regime, and some may say it’s a pretty reckless move. But a 26-year old Samuel could certainly be a big part of the future in Detroit.
The bottom line is this. Amid what should be a long list of suitors for Samuel, the Lions should not be immediately ruled out based purely on the principle of a careful roster build.