Latest Brandon Aiyuk contract prediction might be affordable after all

Bleacher Report predicts Brandon Aiyuk will command a lot of money from the 49ers, but the total amount might not be way out of the Niners' comfort range.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

Brandon Aiyuk is going to cost the 49ers a lot of money, but his latest extension prediction paints a much more affordable picture.

The San Francisco 49ers have an excellent history of rewarding their top players.

That should comfort star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who is currently awaiting his own lucrative contract extension after leading his team in receiving yards the last two seasons. And while he's aware of contractual standoffs between the Niners and other players, such as fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel in 2022 and defensive end Nick Bosa in 2023, Aiyuk also understands the chances of him getting a respectable deal are solid.

But one of the problems facing San Francisco is the fact it has a Super Bowl-caliber roster, chock full of stars who are commanding top dollar at their respective positions. There's this thing called a salary cap, the 49ers are much closer to the ceiling than the floor and still have to navigate what'll be a massive extension for the player who fed Aiyuk for the last year-plus, quarterback Brock Purdy, who'll be due a pay increase in 2025.

As Aiyuk and the Niners navigate the delicate dance of negotiations, it's a good question to figure out what the 2020 first-round NFL Draft pick will command on a new deal.

We apparently have both a floor and a ceiling, too, which helps matters a good deal. And that's what the folks over at Bleacher Report used to speculate what Aiyuk's new contract might look like.

Bleacher Report predicts Brandon Aiyuk gets $120.1 million on a 4-year deal

Earlier this offseason, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported how Aiyuk was looking to exceed the recent contract extension dished out by the Detroit Lions to their star receiver, Amon-Ra St. Brown, which was a four-year deal worth up to $112 million.

On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings extended arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL right now, Justin Jefferson, on a massive four-year contract that's valued up to $140 million, $110 million of which is guaranteed, making Jefferson the highest-paid non-quarterback in league history.

Aiyuk is now aiming to land his new deal somewhere in the middle.

That's where B/R's Kristopher Knox started his prediction machine, speculating on Aiyuk's immediate future. While Knox acknowledged the remote possibility of the Niners trading their star receiver, the stronger outcome is an extension being hammered out:

"Jefferson's $35 million annual value probably isn't realistic for Aiyuk, who has only one stellar season on his resume. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported last month (h/t Bleacher Report's Jack Murray) that Aiyuk was looking to top St. Brown's deal, which might now be palatable.

If another contract soon tops Jefferson's, $30 million per year will start to feel reasonable for a high-end No. 1-caliber receiver. Expect Aiyuk's next contract to fall in line with those of [A.J.] Brown and St. Brown but still well below Jefferson's.

Contract projection: Four years, $120.1 million with $80 million guaranteed"

That'd be an average of just over $30 million per year.

Expensive? Yes. But there are reasons to believe it could end up being an affordable deal over the long run.

Brandon Aiyuk's contract might seem cheap in a few years

Every year, it seems as if some up-and-coming star winds up being the highest-paid player of some kind in league history. Before too long, Jefferson's whopping contract will be surpassed by some other wide receiver.

True, San Francisco has some salary cap stresses. Currently, the team has just over $25 million in available cap space, according to Over the Cap, and that's money eventually needed to extend both Aiyuk and Purdy. But, in 2025, the 49ers are projected to be $41.57 million over the cap, meaning there are some transactions that need to be executed elsewhere on the roster.

Should the Niners backload Aiyuk's deal, however, the cost becomes that much more affordable. While the salary cap ceiling for 2025 and 2026 isn't yet known, OTC speculates San Francisco will have nearly $55 million in cap space in 2025 and then $227.7 million a year later.

Sure, that's a long time to wait. And no one knows what the 49ers roster might look like at that point.

Still, Aiyuk's pending deal could end up looking like a bargain in a few years' time, provided the trend of wide receiver pay increasing continues as it has been.

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