Philadelphia Eagles: Deebo Samuel is an almost perfect trade target

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

It happened; it actually happened: Deebo Samuel has officially requested a trade.

After a month of rumors, speculation, and pontification, the San Francisco 49ers’ do-it-all offensive weapon would like to move forward in a new local where he’s reportedly used in a more conventional – read: less physically demanding – role moving forward.

Assuming Samuel’s wish is honored, which is far from a guaranteed outcome, the bidding for his services will be intense, as every team in the league could use a 26-year-old wideout coming off a 1,405-yard season who can play four different positions across the offensive formation, from X to flanker, slot, and even running back.

Should the Philadelphia Eagles be interested? Oh, you’d best believe it; Deebo Samuel has a higher floor than any wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft class and a higher ceiling than pretty much all of them too, but if Howie Roseman gets in on the act, he’d better come correct, as the former second-round pick out of South Carolina is going to be expensive.

Deebo Samuel would be an expensive weapon for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rumor has it, at least according to Mike Florio and Chris Simms, that Deebo Samuel would like to be the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL.

That seems like an outlandish claim, right? Like, Samuel is a special talent, to be sure, but a wide receiver? Getting that sort of contract? That seems rather crazy, no?

Honestly, it’s not as crazy as you might think. Right now, the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL is Khalil Mack, who is currently on the tail end of a six-year, $141 million extension that he signed back in 2018. The next-highest paid non-quarterback is Davante Adams, who signed a position-redefining five-year, $140 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders after being traded away from Wisconsin last month.

Is Samuel a better wide receiver than Adams? I guess that depends on how you quantify “the best.” He’s three years younger than Adams and has 4,638 fewer regular season snaps on his proverbial ticker, but he’s only got one 1,000 yard season on his resume versus three by Aaron Rodgers’ former favorite target, so giving Samuel that kind of money could age poorly if he never again reaches his 2021 glory.

With that being said, some team is going to pay Samuel in that range, whether that’s the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Jets, or the Philadelphia Eagles; if a team is willing to pay the price to acquire his services, which could be a first-round pick and then some, they aren’t going to let him test free agency after one final season on a rookie-scale contract.

Should Howie Roseman make sure he’s the winner of the “Deebo Samuel sweepstakes?” If he’s willing to pay the price both in 2022 and for half a decade longer, then sure, why not? If there’s any wide receiver who can make a quarterback’s life easier, it’s Samuel.

He can play inside or out, off the line or on it, and even take snaps in the offensive backfield as a hybrid receiver/rusher. He’s a wizard in the screen game, where his stocky build gives would-be tacklers fits in open space, a weapon on sweeps the likes of which the Eagles haven’t had in years, and a home run threat seemingly anytime he touched the ball.

Truly Samuel’s game is borderline quarterback proof, to paraphrase myself from a month ago, and that fact makes paying up to the tune of *gulp* $28-plus million per season a whole lot more tenable, especially if a team can frontload the deal to take advantage of the final year of Jalen Hurts‘ rookie contract. With a final year of a rookie contract in 2022, a general manager could give Samuel a contract similar to Adams in terms of years and total value but with the added flexibility of having a gap year to either front-load the roster with immediate contributors like Tyrann Mathieu in 2022 or to spread out his money over an additional season, which would make his cap hit a bit more manageable at an AAV of $23.3 million, or $4 million less than Fletcher Cox‘s cap hit in 2016.

Will it be cheap? No. Will sneaking his salary under the cap year after year be easy? No. But again, some team is going to do it, be that the Philadelphia Eagles or someone else.

Next. A 3-round mock draft to partake on 4/20. dark

Should the Philadelphia Eagles trade for Deebo Samuel? Honestly, I’m torn. On one hand, his contract is going to be massive, and drafting a wide receiver at 15 or even 18 provides far more optionality from a team-building standpoint. But then again, what are the chances any of the wide receivers in this year’s class are able to produce at Samuel’s level? Talent acquisition in the modern-day NFL is expensive, and securing the rights to a player like Samuel long-term isn’t going to come cheap, as the San Francisco 49ers have found out firsthand. I guess it comes down to how good the organization thinks Samuel can be and how important his role could be in the offensive moving forward.