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The 49ers Contemplate Receivers & Trade Partners

Thanks to the 9th wonder of the world that is social media, trade rumors about Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. have already reached fever pitch. Both receivers are believed to be tied to the 49ers, but are bound by their respective teams and would require a massive undertaking to be acquired.

How likely is it that the 49ers can make a trade? Not very, especially with Brown, who would cost the Pittsburgh Steelers over $20 million in dead money. However, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said otherwise in his column Wednesday…

“Contrary to popular belief, the Steelers would not necessarily take a huge hit on their salary cap if they traded Brown.” He went on to say… “What isn’t being taken into account is his 2019 salary of $12,625,000 that won’t be paid and will be wiped from their cap, even though Brown’s individual cap figure will technically remain the same.”

That would bring Antonio Brown’s salary cap hit down to $6 million if they traded him before March 13th.[1] But don’t hold your breath, judging on how they handled Le’Veon Bell’s season long holdout, the Rooney family aren’t likely to capitulate.

It’s a little bit of déjà vu all over again with Odell Beckham. He tickled the interest of Niner fans last year before signing a five-year extension with the New York Giants worth $95 million. Despite the chatter, don’t expect anything to change now, as the Giant’s general manager Dave Gettleman told reporters on Wednesday… “We didn’t sign him to trade him”.

That may be lip service, but it’s hard to argue considering their sizable commitment and lack of any suitable replacement. Taking everything into consideration, I’d say you’d probably have a better chance getting Jerry Rice to suit up and play again than you would trading for either Brown or Beckham.

That doesn’t mean that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan won’t try, but it’s far more likely that they look elsewhere for a wide receiver this off-season. One possible trade partner could be the Atlanta Falcons. Julio Jones gave Atlanta fans a scare last spring when he didn’t show for mandatory mini-camp.

The brief holdout ended with a revised contract that adjusted Jones’ salary for the 2018 season. The Atlanta Falcons moved $2.9 million from 2019 to the 2018 year of Jones’ deal, combined it with $1.5 million from this year’s base salary and gave him a $4.4 million signing bonus payable over 17 weeks.[2]

Relations may be better with Jones, but after finishing the season 7-9 and rebooting two thirds of their coaching staff, the Falcons might be open to offers for their 30 year old wide-out. It goes without saying that Jones would be an obvious target for the 49ers should he become available.

Jones posted career numbers when Shanahan was Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, it’s not inconceivable that he could replicate the same success in Santa Clara. I imagine that John Lynch would at least make the phone call as he did say publicly that he’d leave no stone unturned, but we shall see.

Other notable trade possibilities…

A.J. Green (Bengals)

Sammy Watkins (Chiefs)

Alshon Jeffery (Eagles)




  1. ^Bouchette, Ed (January 02, 2019). “Trading Antonio Brown would not kill the Steelers’ salary cap”. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  2. ^Wesseling, Chris (July 28, 2018). “Falcons, Julio Jones agree on revised contract”. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
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