It’s becoming routine at this point. A player is up for extension. Their team refuses to give them said extension. The player publicly airs their frustration over social media. Fans of said team go crazy and start spouting out wild theories and accusations. The two parties come to an agreement and then everybody pretends to be happy while we forget anything ever happened.
It happens time and time again in the NFL and very rarely does anything ever come out of it. It’s happened multiple times this offseason alone. Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Kyler Murray wanted a large extension in February. He deleted all references to the Arizona Cardinals from his Instagram. Fans went nuts! There were people out there who legitimately thought Murray was going to quit football and go back to baseball based solely on him deleting those photos. What happened? Nothing. Murray didn’t even sign an extension. Nothing changed. Lo and behold, a month and a half down the line, it’s as if nothing happened. Of course, Murray and the Cards will continue to negotiate an extension throughout the offseason, but after all the mayhem surrounding Murray following his Instagram fiasco, you’d think his career in Arizona was done for.
The same thing happened a month ago with Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Jalen Hurts. During the height of trade speculation surrounding the former Oklahoma and Alabama quarterback, Hurts deleted ‘Eagles QB’ from his Twitter bio. That’s all he did! Several fans immediately interpreted that as confirmation that Hurts was about to be traded. Rumors started swirling of who the Eagles were landing in the trade and whether or not this put them ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC East. Well, I just checked the Eagles’ roster. Wouldn’t you know it? Hurts is still listed as the team’s starting quarterback. I also checked his Twitter account and sure enough, the words ‘Eagles’ and ‘QB’ are nowhere to be found in his bio. But that’s impossible, right? Surely, the removal of the Eagles from his bio meant he was leaving Philadelphia for good. OR...and just hear me out...it didn’t mean anything and we’re looking for the smallest hint at the next big NFL move.
It’s not just this offseason where these types of insignificant changes to social media accounts have led to wild speculation. In 2020, Chicago Bears’ wide receiver Allen Robinson deleted all references to the Bears from his socials. He stayed with the team for two years after the fact.
It’s not always the case that the player stays with the team. In late February of this year, former Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson deleted “Seahawks” from his Twitter bio. Less than two weeks later, he was shipped off to Denver. In 2018, Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard caused a serious stir when he deleted several Bears-related photos from his Instagram. He was eventually traded to the Eagles, but not before he played the entire 2018-19 season with Chicago.
49ers’ wide receiver/utility man Deebo Samuel is the latest NFL star to make their displeasure in contract talks public via social media.
Earlier today, Samuel removed more than 80 posts from his Instagram. Most of the images removed were of him in 49ers’ memorabilia. Samuel also removed his profile picture from the site, which previously featured Samuel in a 49ers’ jersey. Given Samuel’s incredible breakout 2021 campaign and utility in the 49ers’ offense, thousands of 49ers’ fans have gone nuts at this revelation. They believe Samuel is done with the 49ers and will likely request a trade very soon. I refuse to believe that is going to happen.
As I’ve said, just because Samuel deleted some 49ers references from his socials doesn’t mean he’s done with the team. While he has every right to be frustrated by the fact that he’s yet to be extended prior to the final year of his rookie contract, he’s also become one of the top receivers in the NFL recently, thanks in large part to his usage in Kyle Shanahan’s system. He was pivotal to the team’s run to the NFC Championship Game last year and will likely be even better in 2022 if Trey Lance is in fact the upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo that Shanahan thinks he can be. Now, he’s all of a sudden going to leave because he might have to wait a few more months to figure out what his salary will be in two years? That just doesn’t make sense.
These are the same moves that Kyler Murray pulled against the Cardinals when he was frustrated with extension talks, but are we really supposed to believe that he’s going to leave the team in the middle of their Super Bowl window? Furthermore, the idea that the 49ers wouldn’t be willing to pay Samuel is just ridiculous. They’ve got a second-year quarterback they traded three first-round picks for as the face of their franchise. The team’s general manager John Lynch and Shanahan need Lance to be successful. You know one way to ensure that he doesn’t succeed? You take away his best weapons. I know they fumbled the Garoppolo situation, but surely they can’t be this dumb, right?
Yes, Samuel is frustrated with his contract situation. If I were in his position, I’d want the security of knowing where I was going to play and how much I was going to make a year in advance as well. Given the year he just had too, it makes sense that he’d want to establish a new contract before having a chance to get hurt. That being said, there were never any Deebo Samuel trade rumors before today. Despite what Samuel did on his Instagram account, there’s no reason to believe he and the 49ers are going to part ways. This is merely a contract dispute and a public move to pressure the 49ers’ front office into giving Samuel the big extension he’s earned.
Let’s just calm down and stop reading so much into what players do on their social media pages. It’s been a wild NFL offseason and I understand why everyone is closely monitoring the biggest NFL stars hoping to catch a glimpse of the next big move before it happens, but this isn’t a sign of some huge move to happen in the coming days.
A month from now, after this has all blown over, it’ll be just like the Murray and Hurts situations. Everyone will forget this ever happened and we’ll mozy along looking for someone else to delete their team from their Twitter bio. Hopefully by then, we’ll have learned better.