Why the NY Jets should stay away from a Brandon Aiyuk trade

Brandon Aiyuk could force a trade, but the Jets shouldn't be interested
Brandon Aiyuk
Brandon Aiyuk / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

With tensions heating up between star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and his team, the San Francisco 49ers, over a new contract, the NFL world is waiting with bated breath to see if the star wideout requests a trade and the speculation has started to run rampant.

Aiyuk has held out of mandatory minicamp and recently admitted on The Pivot podcast that he's taking the negotiations personal while looking for a new deal that will pay him at least $28 million per season while allegedly rejecting the 49ers latest offer of $26 million per year.

Naturally, the rumor mill has gone into overdrive and speculation abounds on where Aiyuk could end up if the situation between him and his team continues to deteriorate. One of the most commonly speculated landing spots is the NY Jets.

The cost for Brandon Aiyuk is too high for the NY Jets

At just 26 years old and arguably one of the top 10 wide receivers in the league, Aiyuk would surely make just about any team better. Last season he finished with 75 catches for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns on just 105 targets, which is remarkable efficiency. Just entering his prime, it's reasonable to believe there's still some unrealized potential with Aiyuk as well.

That's why the 49ers would be looking for an absolute king's ransom in any potential trade. The Bleacher Report article above posited that he could land with the Jets in exchange for a first and second-round pick.

That's a hefty price to pay for a player that you'll then need to turn around and pay over $28 million per year. That's an even bigger price for a team like the Jets who have their own star receiver in Garrett Wilson who will be looking at a contract in that neighborhood as well soon, as well as several other young cornerstones with huge extensions on the horizon.

Frankly, it's a bad look for team morale to bring in another player from outside the organization and give them a huge extension with so many homegrown talents awaiting their big payday. The Jets have already put themselves in this situation with Haason Reddick, and adding another such player would only ruffle more feathers.

More importantly, an Aiyuk extension may mean eventually losing at least one of Garrett Wilson, Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall, or Jermaine Johnson as the 2022 class looks to get paid starting next offseason. Veterans like D.J. Reed, Michael Carter II, Tyler Conklin, and even Haason Reddick might be squeezed out too.

Then there's the draft capital required to secure a trade. At some point soon, the Jets are going to need to replace their soon-to-be 41-year-old franchise quarterback. That may require some maneuvering in the draft to get his heir apparent, which means picks are at a premium.

Furthermore, with all the other big-money extensions on the horizon, the Jets are going to need to replenish their roster. In addition to the aforementioned players above, the Jets will need to re-sign or replace Morgan Moses, Mike Williams, Tyron Smith, and Chuck Clark next year, among others. Draft capital goes a long way to filling those future holes on the cheap.

Brandon Aiyuk isn't a good fit for what the NY Jets need

The assumption is that Aiyuk would fit perfectly with the Jets given the similarity in offensive scheme, the organization's connections to San Francisco, and the win-now edict the team is operating under. Other teams in the league have acquired a pair of number-one receivers, leading to credence that the Jets should do the same.

However, the 49ers and the Jets are two franchises that have been the inverse of each other over the past few seasons. The 49ers have appeared in two of the last five Super Bowls while the Jets haven't made the playoffs since 2010.

Both teams drafted first-round bust quarterbacks in 2021, but the 49ers found an upper-echelon starter with the Mr. Irrelevant pick whereas the Jets had to trade for a 40-year-old future Hall of Famer. The 49ers employ a brilliant offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan, and the Jets employ Austin Powers enthusiast Nathaniel Hackett.

Simply, there's not a lot of similarity between the two franchises beyond the surface, and for Aiyuk this may make the money that much more important. And for the Jets, they already have a similar player on the roster, one that if he were given the support that Aiyuk has had might even outshine him.

That player is Garrett Wilson, and he and Aiyuk play a similar role in a similar offense. Both players operate at their best in the intermediate area of the field, with Aiyuk owning a career average depth of target of 11.3 yards versus Wilson's 10.8.

Building a team means more than just collecting the most individually talented players. Successful teams build by acquiring the best possible players who have skillsets that complement each other. This makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Aiyuk and Wilson occupying the same area of the field doesn't accomplish that goal.

New York's other top receiver Mike WIlliams, a known deep threat, has a career average depth of target of 14.3 yards. That is a much better pairing with Wilson, as it forces opposing defenses to make a decision. Guard deep and open up space for Wilson, or clog the middle of the field leaving Williams with favorable matchups.

The Jets could still use some depth at the wide receiver position. An insurance policy against injury or ineffectiveness would be a welcome addition. But that insurance doesn't need to come in the form of a top-10 wide receiver.

And it absolutely doesn't need to come in the form of a wide receiver who's a poor fit alongside the team's most prolific receiving option, especially when said option with actual competent quarterback play might be a younger, better version of the speculative high-priced addition.

Brandon Aiyuk is a fantastic player. Brandon Aiyuk is not a fantastic fit for the New York Jets. Both statements can be, and are, true.