Why the Patriots should be calling the 49ers right now about a trade for receiver Brandon Aiyuk – The Boston Globe – Football News

Why the Patriots should be calling the 49ers right now about a trade for receiver Brandon Aiyuk – The Boston Globe

If the Patriots want to give rookie Drake Maye a chance, or want to keep veteran Jacoby Brissett from getting eaten alive, they have to find a way to add a proven No. 1 receiver.

Enter Aiyuk. He’s upset that he’s playing on his fifth-year option of $14.4 million and not a long-term deal. And he’s close to everything the Patriots need.

Aiyuk is young, having just turned 26. He’s productive, coming off a season with 75 catches for 1,342 yards, 7 touchdowns, and a 17.9-yard average that ranked second-best in the NFL. He is durable, with just one missed game the last three years. He’s also a good scheme fit, with the Patriots installing a West Coast offense similar to the one run by the 49ers.

Most importantly, Aiyuk is potentially available.

Aiyuk would give rookie quarterback Drake Maye (if he plays) a legitimate No. 1 receiving threat.Steph Chambers/Getty

Elite receivers don’t hit the open market often. Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith all signed mega-extensions with their teams this offseason. Tee Higgins tried to request a trade, but the Bengals aren’t budging and he signed his franchise tag this week. Ja’Marr Chase, CeeDee Lamb, and Tyreek Hill will likely get new deals from their teams, too.

The 49ers have said since the conclusion of April’s draft that they have every intention of keeping Aiyuk for the long term. But here we are in late June, and he still doesn’t have a new contract, and he’s expressing displeasure on social media.

Now would be the time for Wolf to start pestering 49ers general manager John Lynch every day about what it would take to land Aiyuk.

Aiyuk won’t turn the Patriots into a contender. But he’ll help make them competitive in 2024, and give Maye a legitimate weapon as he learns how to play in the NFL.

With the current group of receivers, the Patriots may have a tough time even being competitive.

Kendrick Bourne is a wild card coming off a torn ACL. JuJu Smith-Schuster may not have much left in his knee and could get released even though the Patriots owe him $7 million guaranteed. Kayshon Boutte had just two catches as a rookie. Former second-round pick Tyquan Thornton has 338 receiving yards in two years. Jalen Reagor is likely just a kick returner.

The Patriots do have a few serviceable receivers. DeMario Douglas led the team with 561 receiving yards last year as a rookie and should be a nice weapon in the slot. K.J. Osborn, signed from Minnesota, was the Patriots’ most consistent and versatile receiver this spring. Tight end Hunter Henry and running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Antonio Gibson should be big contributors in the passing game.

But the Patriots don’t have anyone close to the caliber of the Dolphins’ Hill and Waddle, or the Jets’ Garrett Wilson, or the Bengals’ Chase, or the Texans’ trio of Nico Collins, Tank Dell, and Stefon Diggs. The Patriots don’t even have a George Pickens, or a Terry McLaurin, or an Adam Thielen.

They may be the only NFL team without a defined No. 1 receiver, someone that worries the defense and must be accounted for on every play.

They also don’t have Tom Brady under center anymore. Their quarterbacks include a journeyman veteran and a rookie who needs a lot of work.

Add in a rookie head coach and first-time offensive play-caller, and it’s the perfect recipe for disaster.

Absent a trade, the Patriots’ only hope at finding a No. 1 is with their two rookies — second-rounder Ja’Lynn Polk and fourth-rounder Javon Baker. They have been staying after practice to run routes with Maye, and Polk showed off his speed with a long touchdown return during kickoff drills. If the Patriots are lucky, one of them will hit like a lottery ticket.

But Polk and Baker have been here only a month, and like most rookies, they are still learning how to be pros, I’m told. They’re not ready to be saviors, nor is it fair to expect them to be.

Aiyuk may not be in the same class as Hill or Chase, but he would be a perfect addition in Foxborough, giving Maye or Brissett a legitimate No. 1 option and bumping the other receivers to appropriate roles.

Should the 49ers listen to the Patriots, the next part is figuring out the compensation. The Patriots likely don’t want to offer next year’s first-round pick, since it could be in the top five. But this spring, the Giants got elite pass rusher Brian Burns for second- and fifth-round picks.

The Patriots also would have to give Aiyuk a new contract. He probably won’t get in Jefferson’s neighborhood of $35 million per year, but somewhere in the $25 million-$28 million range is likely.

If Wolf can get Aiyuk for a 2, a 5, and $75 million fully guaranteed, he should pounce. It’s a fair price to pay for a legitimate playmaker. And Aiyuk looks like the only option available.

The 49ers probably would have multiple suitors should they listen to offers for Aiyuk. Wolf and the Patriots need to make sure they’re at the front of the line.

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com.

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