The Jets are very likely to come out of Day 1 of the NFL Draft with an elite, No. 1 wide receiver.
And there’s still a chance that could be Deebo Samuel.
It may not be a good chance, but the possibility of the Jets swinging a deal for the San Francisco 49ers’ electric receiver is “not completely dead,” according to an NFL source. The 49ers have indicated they don’t want to trade their unhappy star, but didn’t completely deny that they would. And apparently they have at least been listening when teams have called.
The Jets, to no one’s surprise, were one of those teams. Not only has GM Joe Douglas promised he’s “ready to strike” if a top receiver is available, he proved it when he nearly swung a trade for Tireek Hill a few weeks ago. And the Jets, with so much of their coaching staff filled with former 49ers assistants, like the 26-year-old Samuel even better.
Any deal for Samuel could be “complicated,” as the source said. For one thing, the 49ers have indicated they want a first-round pick in this draft to be part of the package, and it’s not clear whether the Jets really would part with the 10th overall pick. When they nearly had a deal for Hill, they were going to send their two second-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs and keep both their first-rounders.
At the time, though, SNY reported that the Jets were open to the possibility of trading the 10th overall pick in a deal for a top receiver, but the entire package had to be right. The Chiefs notably didn’t add anything to the Hill deal when they sent him to the Miami Dolphins for a package of five picks, including the Dolphins’ first- and second-rounder this year.
Getting more than Samuel back from the 49ers could be difficult since they don’t have a first-round pick in this draft. In fact, they don’t pick at all until No. 61. The Jets will have already picked four times by then, and picked again at 69.
One NFL source speculated that if the Jets were willing to deal a first-round pick to San Francisco for Samuel they might first try to trade down in the draft from 10 and pick up other assets. Then they could deal a lower first-round pick in a package and they would have already gotten other pieces back. Of course, adding a third team would make this a really complicated deal, especially on the day of the draft.
There are other complicating factors, too. One is that the Jets are unlikely to trade anything of value unless they’re able to sign Samuel to a long-term contract extension, since his contract is due to expire at the end of this year.
That could be very expensive, considering Hill got a four-year $120 million deal with $72 million guaranteed from Miami, and Davante Adams got five years and $140 million with $65 million guaranteed when he was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Jets, according to a source, were willing to pay Hill what he wanted, so they are surely willing to pay Samuel, too. It’s not clear whether they’ve been given permission to speak with Samuel’s agent, but surely they know the parameters of what he wants by now.
The other complication is that if the Jets are willing to give up their first-round pick – whether it’s the 10th pick or something lower — the 49ers will surely want to know which players are available to them before they make a deal. And while the two sides likely would have figured out many of the specifics of a potential deal long before the draft begins, it’s still not easy to make a final decision on a trade of this magnitude when a team is on the clock.
It only gets more complicated if they wait until after the Jets pick, which is why many around the league believe a deal is unlikely. But “unlikely” isn’t “impossible.” And with hours to go until the draft begins, no one is willing to rule it out.