Arik Armstead reveals 49ers asked him to take $12 million pay cut

Mar 28, 2024, 4:02 PM | Updated: 4:41 pm

Arik Armstead #91 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during warmups before the game against the Se...

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Arik Armstead #91 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during warmups before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The relationship between the 49ers and Arik Armstead came to an abrupt end this offseason. And now we know why, at least from the player’s perspective.

The former San Francisco 49ers captain revealed the true nature of his departure from the Red & Gold on the latest episode of his podcast, “Third and Long.” Talking about the exit, he revealed the process of his contract talks with the team. The 49ers had informed him and his agent after the 2023 season that they were interested in extending him. However, they did not specify at the time what that would look like.

Per Armstead, the 49ers approached him at the start of free agency with a mere one-year, $6 million deal, with incentives worth up to $8 million. And for a player who previously stated he wanted a long-term extension close to $20 million, the 49ers’ offer was a slap in the face for the Sacramento native.

“When they sent that [offer] over, I did feel extremely disrespected,” Arik Armstead explained. “I don’t feel that that level of compensation is nowhere near the type of player that I am. Not even just the type of player that I am, what I have committed to the game, what I’ve committed to my team, what I’ve committed to the organization and in my community. I didn’t feel like it was representative of who I am as a player and a person.”

Entering the 2023 season, Armstead had there goals in mind: Win a Super Bowl, make the Pro Bowl, and earn his third contract.

The player believed his value was closer to that of 4-years, $80 million, given his value to the organization and what the market expectation is for defensive tackles. But due to injuries and drop-off in production, the 49ers didn’t see it that way, having to come to some hard truths with the salary cap.

This time around, that meant looking to cut Armstead’s salary by two-thirds, something the player wasn’t comfortable with doing, despite understanding the business side of football.

“I know for a fact that I do a lot more than a majority of players,” Armstead said on his show. “I put a lot more into football than a majority of players and I think that that [brings] value as well…I didn’t feel like that offer was anywhere near the level of compensation for a player like me.”

And Armstead was correct.

As soon as the two sides couldn’t work out a deal, Armstead was released by the 49ers. Free to go find a new team, the player did just that, signing a three-year, $43.2 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. His new contract included $25 million guaranteed, far and away more than SF was willing to offer him.

And for that reason alone, the 49ers’ brass understands Armstead’s decision because it was the right call.

“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,” 49ers general manager John Lynch stated this week. “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, played nine seasons with the 49ers. The Sacramento native racked up 302 combined tackles, 33.5 sacks and 88 quarterback hits in 116 regular-season games. He was a pivotal voice in the locker room as well, referred to by many as the 49ers’ “blueprint” on the defensive line.

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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