It’s clear that the New York Jets make sense for Deebo Samuel
The smoke has turned into a blazing fire as San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel has officially requested a trade. The news was first reported on Wednesday, April 20, by ESPN’s Jeff Darlington.
Breaking News: I just spoke to wide receiver Deebo Samuel — and he told me that he has asked the 49ers to trade him.
He did not want to discuss specific reasons behind his request, but he has indeed let the 49ers know his desire to leave the organization. More to come.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) April 20, 2022
It was reported later in the day by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that the request was actually made more than one week prior.
The New York Jets missed out on Tyreek Hill in March, but they may actually be better off with Samuel. General manager Joe Douglas has been waiting for one of the fourth-year wide receivers to become available and his patience has finally paid off.
While every team could use a player like Deebo, the Jets are likely the best fit for many reasons.
Why the New York Jets are the best fit for Deebo Samuel
One major reason New York makes sense for Samuel is that the Jets’ coaches have a long history with Samuel from their days in San Francisco.
Head coach Robert Saleh is the most obvious connection but the Jets brought over four additional coaches from the 49ers as well, most notably offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who served as the 49ers’ passing game coordinator over Samuel’s first two NFL seasons (2019-20).
Samuel is an ideal scheme fit for the Jets. LaFleur runs a very similar passing offense to the 49ers, which emphasizes yards after the catch. Nothing could make a quarterback’s life easier than the player that lead the NFL with 784 yards after the catch in 2021.
There is speculation, however, that Samuel wants a more traditional wide receiver role. In the second half of the 2021 season, Samuel averaged over seven rushing attempts a game. He only had six total rushing attempts over his first eight games.
Thankfully, the Jets already have players that can thrive in that role.
Wide receivers Braxton Berrios and Elijah Moore were both used to great success on gadget plays, combining for three rushing touchdowns in 2021. Berrios was especially effective, providing a spark simply by going into motion and threatening a rushing attempt. Deebo would likely welcome the opportunity to play for a team that could reduce the wear on his body.
The Jets also have a need at wide receiver. Corey Davis and Elijah Moore are good players but aren’t proven enough to be relied on as number one targets. Samuel would immediately give quarterback Zach Wilson someone to rely on and grow with.
It was already known that the Jets are looking to add a wide receiver. Now one of the league’s best is finally available. So what will it cost?
What would a Deebo Samuel trade look like?
The obvious starting point is the Jets’ offer for Tyreek Hill.
New York was prepared to give up two second-round picks (35th and 38th overall) and a third-round pick (69th) in exchange for Hill and a late third-round pick (103rd).
Using the classic Jimmy Johnson trade chart, the Jets’ package for Hill was worth 1,315 points. If you account for the 103rd overall pick that the Jets were going to receive in return (worth 88 points), the package was worth a net value of 1,227 points.
Comparatively, the Jets’ 10th overall pick is worth 1,300 points – similar to the value of the entire package that the Jets were ready to use for Hill.
We can look at past wide receiver trades for a guide on what it might take to acquire Samuel.
Stefon Diggs offers the closest recent example. After posting two 1,000-yard seasons before turning 27 years old, the Bills made a blockbuster trade.
The Bills sent the Vikings a first-round pick (22nd overall), a fifth-round pick (155th overall), and a sixth-round pick (221st overall) in the 2020 draft as well as a fourth-round pick in 2021 for Diggs.
This is only a total of 854.2 points. A similar Jets trade would be to send the 35th, 69th, and 117th picks for Deebo. It’s easily worth it if Deebo can elevate Wilson like Diggs did for Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
However, Deebo is younger and has shown that he can take over NFL games. Few players in the NFL can do what he does with the ball. He will likely cost more than Diggs did.
If his relationship with the 49ers is truly broken then the Jets may be able to get Samuel for a similar deal to Diggs. Unfortunately, the Jets won’t be alone in their pursuit.
While there is no official confirmation yet, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport mentioned the Lions, Packers, and Chiefs as teams that may try to trade for Samuel.
Among the teams to consider as the trade market for Deebo Samuel heats up: The #Jets, the #Packers, the #Chiefs, the #Lions… and, I assume, most other teams who like really good players. https://t.co/onrd55k3s3
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 20, 2022
All three teams have two picks between the 22nd and 34th slots in the 2022 NFL draft. Not to mention, the chance to compete for a championship with Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes may be too good to pass up.
To outbid the Packers’ 22nd and 28th picks (1,440 total points), the Jets would need to package the 10th overall pick and either the 69th pick or a combination of day three picks.
Would Deebo be worth the draft capital and a contract worth over $25 million per year?
Deebo Samuel has tantalizing upside but a long injury history
Samuel had a dominant 2021 season, posting 1,770 total yards and 14 total touchdowns.
Prior to the point in which he began to be used more often as a running back (Week 10), Deebo was second in the NFL with 882 receiving yards through his first eight games.
The 49ers didn't start to frequently use Deebo Samuel in the backfield until Week 10 (only had 6 carries before then)
Prior to that point, he was 2nd in the league in receiving yards with 882 in 8 games (110.3 per game)
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) April 20, 2022
Samuel also dominated as a downfield threat in 2021. He ranked 10th in the NFL with 374 receiving yards on deep catches (receptions on passes that traveled over 20 yards downfield) and had a perfect Pro Football Focus grade of 99.9 when targeted on deep passes.
Before the change in his usage in Week 10, Samuel was fifth in deep receiving yards with 286 through Week 9.
Deebo showed great improvement in his yards-per-reception rate this past season. He led the NFL with 18.2 yards per reception, beating the previous career-high of 14.2 that he set as a rookie.
Samuel earned a career-best 87.2 PFF grade and ranked as the site’s eighth-best player of 2021.
5 49ers were named to PFF’s top 101 players of 2021, with 3 landing in the top-20:
70. Fred Warner
31. Nick Bosa
16. George Kittle
8. Deebo Samuel
1. Trent Williams
— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) February 16, 2022
Despite his talent on the field, there are concerns about his ability to stay on it.
Samuel missed nine total games over three different stretches in the 2020 season. However, he followed this up by missing only one game in 2021 and he only missed one game in 2019 as a rookie.
While Samuel stayed healthy in 2019 and 2021, his injury concerns date back to college. At South Carolina, Samuel missed 20 games over his first three years before finally staying healthy in his senior year, playing 12 out of 13 games.
With the Jets’ injury luck, they may think twice when a player has missed six NFL games and 10 college games due to hamstring injuries. Not to mention, he has also fractured his left fibula and foot.
There are certainly concerns, but the Jets can’t afford to pass up a playmaker like Deebo.
The Jets should attempt to trade for Deebo Samuel
Few players can do what Deebo can. In his third year, Deebo led the NFL in yards per reception (18.2) and yards after the catch (10.2).
He also had the highest rushing grade at PFF among wide receivers (87.2) and a ridiculous total of eight rushing touchdowns. While he will not and should not be used as a rusher at the rate he experienced in San Francisco, he could still do it on crucial downs.
Even if the Jets had to severely overpay with the 10th and 69th overall picks (1,545 points), they’d still have the sixth-most draft capital of any team in the 2022 draft. They would also still be one of only five teams with three top-40 picks.
The Jets have a major need for a wide receiver, a boatload of picks, and plenty of friendly faces for wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Now it’s up to Joe Douglas to sell him on New York and his future quarterback.