Trading for Deebo Samuel would be a bold move by the Detroit Lions

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

In my perfect world, the Detroit Lions would finally buck the narrative of settling to remain mediocre and make a bold move; but that’s not generally the Lions’ way.

It’s not every day, although this offseason it has seemed like it, that a franchise-type player becomes available, but here we go again.  This time, the 49ers’ star receiver/offensive weapon Deebo Samuel has officially requested a trade out of San Francisco.

This has become a common theme around the NFL, and it’s a bit alarming.  We’ve seen Odell Beckham Jr. move multiple times, and more recently, the likes of Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Russell Wilson as per their request.  Next on the list is Samuel and, maybe in the coming days, A.J. Brown and Terry McLaurin, who are both looking for new contracts before showing up to their respective camps.

Samuel, 26-years old, is in the prime of his career and entering the final year of his rookie deal that pays him $7.2 million.  According to The NFL Network’s insider, Ian Rapoport, money doesn’t seem to be the issue here between the 49ers and Samuel.

According to NextGen stats, Samuel aligned in the backfield for 21.1% of the snaps over the final eleven games last season, that up significantly from the 2.1% over the previous 33 games of his career.

Should the Detroit Lions trade for Deebo Samuel?

That begs the question if Samuel is not interested in maximizing his value by being a swiss army knife-like offensive weapon, is he really worth Adams’ and Hill money?  His versatility is what makes him so valuable.

Last season Samuel totaled 1,405 yards receiving on 77 catches, good for 18.2 yards per reception and six receiving touchdowns.  The talented do-it-all weapon also ran for 365 yards, 6.2 yards per carry, and eight rushing touchdowns on 59 totes.

Initially, I thought it would be a no-brainer for the Detroit Lions to make an attempt at adding Samuel via trade, and I’d still welcome it, but if he doesn’t want to carry the football on somewhat of a regular basis, is he worth giving up the high-end draft capital to acquire him?

Also, he will be seeking a long-term deal that likely averages $25 million per season as the floor.  It’s a steep price for a player even of his caliber who might not be willing to do everything head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson may require.

I wanted to address the folks who have some concerns about Samuel’s health and ability to remain healthy.  Samuel has had injuries but played in 15 games as a rookie and 16 games last season.  In 2020 Samuel played in just seven contests, but the 49ers were stricken by injuries and didn’t have a reason to rush him back.

If you have injury concerns with Samuel, do you have the same concerns surrounding Frank Ragnow, T.J. Hockenson, Taylor Decker, Romeo Okwara, Jerry Jacobs, Jeff Okudah, and D’Andre Swift? The list goes on and on.  Injuries are part of the game, and sure as a franchise, you want to do your due diligence, but Samuel is coming off a very productive season.

Pairing Samuel with Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark, Hockenson, and Swift with that potentially spectacular offensive line, the Detroit Lions could suddenly possess a consistent top 15 offense in 2022.  This will also allow the Lions to focus on bolstering their defense through the draft.

If the Detroit Lions were able to acquire Samuel for the no. 32 pick and say, the Rams first-round pick in 2023, I’d be for it.  If the Lions are forced to give up two first-rounders, I’d hope Brad Holmes was able to land a third or fourth-rounder coming back.

The more realistic path will be drafting a receiver with one of their first three picks and hoping to strike gold.  But it is always fun to fantasize about the alternative.

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A hypothetical trade would mean that the Detroit Lions could essentially end up with Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Malik Willis, or insert a player at no. 2 overall plus Samuel with the no. 32 overall pick.  That is a pretty nice draft day when you put it into those terms.