49ers GM John Lynch says Arik Armstead departure was a tough decision

Mar 27, 2024, 8:37 AM | Updated: 8:54 am

Arik Armstead #91 looks on during San Francisco 49ers practice ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Fertitt...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 09: Arik Armstead #91 looks on during San Francisco 49ers practice ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Fertitta Football Complex on February 09, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

Sometimes athletes are causalities of the game and salary cap, with Arik Armstead being the biggest of the 49ers’ tough calls this offseason.

The organization released the former captain of the San Francisco 49ers after both sides were unable to come to terms on a restructured contract. The Sacramento native was the Red & Gold’s long-tenured member with the club, spending his first nine seasons with the 49ers.

But after another failed quest for Super Bowl No.6, some tough decisions had to be made for the future of the roster. And sadly, it resulted in Armstead leaving the club that drafted him.

“We’ve been fortunate to draft and acquire a lot of really talented players, and we’ve rewarded a lot of them. Some realities come to bear that you can’t keep everybody. And so, you have to make some tough judgments,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said at the NFL meetings in Orlando. “We worked with Arik, really appreciative of him and his family and representative trying to work something out [on a] restructured contract. [We] took a couple different whacks at different ideas, and ultimately, he wanted to go see what his value [was] and good for him, because it was robust.”

The Sacramento native signed a three-year, $51 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. That cap figure was something the 49ers weren’t prepared to match for a player who missed 13 regular-season games the last two seasons due to injury. Additionally, Armstead was projected to be a $28.4 million cap hit for the team in 2024, the third-highest total behind Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel.

Because of those factors, Lynch and Co. needed to adjust the cap number to alleviate the pressure of the roster books. Looking to get it closer to the $15 to $18 million range, SF entered talks with the player to keep him around. But as previously stated, he bet on himself, forcing the team to released him.

It comes with a heavy heart though, as the 49ers are grateful for Armstead’s contribution to the franchise and the community over the last decade.

“Those are tough decisions. Arik’s done so much for our team. He’s such a fabric of who we are as a team, the work he does in the community, the opportunity for him to be up on that 10-year wall. That was important to me, that was important to the organization, it was important to Arik,” Lynch stated. “But ultimately, he chose to bet on himself. And you know, I think he made a good call because his market was there.”

Arik Armstead, 30, leaves the 49ers with a heavy heart as well, becoming a staple in the San Francisco and Sacramento communities. But in the end, football is a business, and the Pleasant Grove High School alum made the right business call for his financial future.

He posted a farewell message to his Instagram after the Jacksonville deal became official.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Arik Armstead (@arikarmstead)

To fill the hole in the defensive line, the 49ers traded a seventh-round pick to Houston for defensive tackle Maliek Collins. And while Collins is cheaper and younger, it’ll be a tough task to fill the shoes of his predecessor in 2024.

“I don’t think you replace a player like Arik Armstead,” Collins said. “The person that he is in the community, person he is on the field, I don’t think you replace that. I’m just here to add my skill set and bring what I bring, with who I am, to the table.”

Key offseason dates for the San Francisco 49ers

  • March 24-27 – Annual league meeting in Orlando
  • April 25-27 – 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit

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