Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers likely disagreeing over this significant contract element

Guaranteed money, anyone?
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Brandon Aiyuk and the 49ers continue to be at an extension standoff, and a new contract is probably being held up by this notable aspect.

The San Francisco 49ers seem to find a way to immerse themselves in drama during any particular offseason (thankfully, it's not quarterbacks this year).

For this edition in 2024, it's the notable contractual standoff between them and their star wide receiver, Brandon Aiyuk.

Aiyuk, entering year five and under contract through the season, wants a new extension, and the latest scuttlebutt suggests he wants a deal that'll pay him an average of $30 million per season, not unlike what the Detroit Lions recently gave to their top receiver, Amon-Ra St. Brown.

On the opposite end of the bargaining table, the San Francisco Chronicle's Mike Silver (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area) reported the 49ers were offering a deal with an annual average of approximately $26 million.

While a difference of $4 million per year is insane for the rest of us plebeians, it's not a world-beating difference as far as contracts go, especially when teams now frequently spread cap hits out over time by the way of void years, something the Niners do often.

So, what's the holdup? Why is San Francisco waiting to lock down Aiyuk on a new deal, especially while other receivers are beginning to cash in and reset the market higher and higher?

There's probably one significant obstacle both parties are trying to overcome.

Guaranteed money is likely preventing Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers from reaching new contract

Fans pay attention to annual averages and total max values when it comes to contracts, but both players and agents will preach how the big difference maker is the guaranteed money on any particular deal.

Historically speaking, San Francisco has been reluctant to include a lot of dead money in contracts and extensions with its players, including the blue-chippers and stars. Without getting too deep in the technical aspects, an abundance of guaranteed money makes it difficult for teams to part ways with players as cap casualties without incurring hefty amounts of dead cash.

Two years ago, the 49ers had to bend against their prior practice when fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel was holding out (and even requested a trade) during his own extension talks. When he finally received his three-year extension after posting a 1,770 all-purpose-yard campaign with 14 touchdowns, it wasn't right toward the top of largest contracts for wideouts, in terms of annual average value.

But, with $41 million guaranteed out of $71.55 million total, Samuel's contract was within the top five for receivers at the time. And that figure is still in the top six after subsequent deals were handed out to other wide receivers since 2022.

There's an excellent chance that Aiyuk isn't necessarily eyeing the annual average. Instead, he's probably wanting to get north of $41 million in guaranteed money.

Just as they did with Samuel, the Niners may have to bend their practice yet again if they hope to get their leading receiver from the last two seasons under contract after 2024.

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