Earlier Wednesday morning, Rich broke down the case for re-signing Arik Armstead over DeForest Buckner. PFF went through each NFL team’s offseason to determine the worst and best move. For the San Francisco 49ers, the guys at PFF mentioned both Armstead and Buckner. They were on board with the Niners trading Buckner:
Best move: Trading DeForest Buckner for the 13th overall pick
With Emmanuel Sanders departing, the Niners are now in the market for a wide receiver, and by trading for Indy’s 13th overall pick, they are in a prime location to snag one of the elite receiving prospects in Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs III. All three are top-10 prospects overall, and all would fit comfortably in Kyle Shanahan’s offense with their explosive ability after the catch
Calling each receiver a top-10 prospect is something I cannot get on board with. I do agree that it was the correct decision to trade DeFo. One of the chief reasons is because Buckner has more value. So if you’re going to move on from a player, and neither will be your “best” rusher moving forward—he wears No. 97—then trade the player at a position that’s not as valuable while you can fetch a higher draft pick.
The worst move, according to PFF, was extending Armstead:
Worst move: Re-signing Arik Armstead for five years, $85 million with $48.5 million guaranteed
Re-signing Arik Armstead for as much as they did was a bit risky considering what we’ve seen from him so far. Armstead has played under 400 snaps in each of his three seasons, and while he flashed some potential in his rookie campaign by earning a 79.0 overall grade, he saw most of that success come from his run defense and not his pass-rushing. From 2015-18, Armstead’s career-high pass-rush grade was just 70.6. In 2019, he greatly improved on that by recording a 75.1 pass-rush grade that ranked 27th. He’s a good player, but five years, $85 million with $48.5 million guaranteed is a bit hefty.
There is always a risk in free agency. You don’t pay for past production. The 49ers are banking on Armstead to continue to trend in the right direction, as he’s done the past two seasons. Armstead went from trending into a good player to performing like a star in 2019. If Armstead plays at 80% of the level he did last season, this is a good deal for the 49ers.
Also, having Armstead, a high-caliber player, on the line with Dee Ford and Nick Bosa allows the 49ers to have a three-headed monster that hopefully turns into four after the draft. Either way, bringing back Armstead made sense as it won’t allow offenses to double Bosa every play.