SANTA CLARA (KPIX) — The Defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers had a difficult choice to make along their defensive line heading into this offseason.
Defensive end Arik Armstead was slated to become a free agent and, in order to keep him, it would likely mean that one of their other big names along the defensive line would have to be moved.
The team did just that, signing Armstead to a 5-year $85 million dollar extension and trading defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for the 13th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. While Buckner was an extremely valuable piece of the defensive line, the team would have had a difficult time keeping both and building out the rest of the roster.
Armstead, 27, spoke to the team’s website about the extension saying that he is glad to be remaining in the Bay Area.
“It’s amazing. I really didn’t want to be anywhere else,” said Armstead. “I’m from Sacramento, the Niners drafted me five years ago and going through the process I really never imagined myself anywhere else. It really wasn’t about necessarily the money for me, I wanted to be in San Fran and try to get back to a Super Bowl.”
Armstead had the most productive season of his career in 2019, finishing with 10 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. But, part of that production of course came to the work that Buckner was doing on the interior of the line (7.5 sacks). Armstead and Buckner are good friends having played together since their days at Oregon. He told the team’s website it was tough to lose his friend, but he’s happy that Buckner was able to get a good deal with the Colts.
“It was a crazy day. Super excited that he got that payday, I wish it was with us,” said Armstead. “Me and B have been playing alongside each other for so many years now, so it was definitely a weird day, a mix of emotions. Super happy for him that he got that payday and I know he’s going to do great things out there but, definitely still wish we were playing together and continuing our careers together.”
Armstead and the 49ers will be looking to avoid the Super Bowl hangover and become just the fourth team ever to lose a Super Bowl and follow it up with a Super Bowl victory (1971 Cowboys, 1972 Dolphins, 2018 Patriots).