Brandon Aiyuk causes ill-advised stir amid Commanders speculation

The story won't go away.
Brandon Aiyuk
Brandon Aiyuk / Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders have constantly been linked with a trade for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk since they drafted Jayden Daniels at No., 2 overall. They've formed a close bond at Arizona State and are spending a lot of time together this offseason. Fans are dreaming of the prospect of this highly-touted duo linking up in the nation's capital at some stage.

Dreams and reality are very different where the NFL is concerned. The San Francisco 49ers have all the leverage right now. Even if they cannot work out a new deal with Aiyuk, those in power can place him under the franchise tag to provide some extra leeway to get something done next spring. That won't make the player happy, but this is a business above all else.

Aiyuk named the Commanders as his preferred destination ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers if his time in San Francisco comes to an end. Adam Schefter from ESPN reported that the Commanders inquired about the wide receiver's availability earlier this year without something concrete emerging.

Brandon Aiyuk posted Commanders' practice film picture amid trade rumors

All signs point to the player staying with the Niners next season. That hasn't stopped Aiyuk from causing a stir whenever he can to either get paid or force his way out.

Another example of this arrived on social media when Aiyuk took a photo of an All-22 practice film from the Commanders' early offseason program. This was a storm in a teacup, but it fanned the flames of speculation nonetheless.

Aiyuk was probably watching practice film with Daniels, perhaps even providing the rookie quarterback with some helpful hints. That's what good friends do. Even if the post - which has now been deleted - was ill-advised.

This proved one thing above all else. It doesn't take much to ignite the excitement of fans who are clamoring for this trade to happen. It's also a powder keg waiting to go off at any moment and highlights the increasing influence social media has on player power in the league.

Unfortunately for Aiyuk, this isn't the NBA. Players rarely get to dictate proceedings regarding their future destination. Even if teams do become receptive to trades, they take the best offer regardless of personal preference. That's why no-trade clauses are especially important in modern-day negotiations.

The Commanders tried to reunite the pair but were unsuccessful. Adam Peters will no doubt monitor events closely and strike if another opportunity arises. For now, he'll be moving forward with the wideout options available, and hope it's enough to ensure Daniels hits the ground running.

Slotting Aiyuk opposite Terry McLaurin with a signal-caller like Daniels would be a mouth-watering proposition. It might happen a little further down the line, but the Niners seem intent on keeping the progressive pass-catcher in their quest to go one better and win the Super Bowl in 2024.

Washington's ambitions aren't nearly as great during their first season of a vast rebuild under Dan Quinn. But if Daniels takes off as many anticipate, it won't be much longer before this storied franchise is fighting for honors.

Until Aiyuk's predicament gets sorted one way or another, speculation will remain. Acts such as this just keep the flame burning.