2. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Brandon Aiyuk just put together the best season of his career at age 25. The Niners wideout racked up 75 catches for 1,342 yards and seven scores in 2023. For context, the Patriots' entire wide receiving corps combined for five touchdowns last season.
So why would San Francisco move their star receiver? Aiyuk is a free agent after the 2024 season and is in line to receive a major payday. The 49ers already have a ton of capital tied up in another star receiver, Deebo Samuel, who is set to take up 10 percent of the team's cap next season with a cap hit of over $28 million.
Aiyuk's contract is far more movable than Samuel's, and San Francisco will be up against the cap next season with only about $1 million worth of space to work with. Moving on from Aiyuk would provide them far more financial flexibility to pursue another Super Bowl run.
Aiyuk had 377 yards after the catch in 2023, and over 1,000 for his career. If New England does ultimately draft a younger quarterback, having a wide receiver with that kind of run after catch ability can alleviate a lot of pressure and provide a young signal caller with a security blanket. Regardless of who is under center, offensive talent is a glaring need for the Patriots and new head coach Jerod Mayo.
After the N'Keal Harry disaster, maybe the Patriots can somewhat right their wrongs with the better Arizona State first round wide receiver. It won't come cheap, though.