On Monday, we received another fun tidbit in the “Will they or won’t they” world of NFL free agency with reports coming that the 49ers are working on getting a deal done with Arik Armstead. There were also reports saying that he was getting slapped with the franchise tag. Let’s talk about the former. If the 49ers manage to work out a (creative) extension to Armstead, especially after the season he had, it will begin to give us an idea of what they have planned for DeForest Buckner.
Or, if they have anything planned at all.
We’ve heard nothing but good things about how the 49ers want to keep Buckner. There also have been reports on how Buckner has turned down big money (though Buckner has said these reports are false). Regardless of what’s going on with that situation, Armstead will only show you what to expect for Buckner if the 49ers lock him [Armstead] in. If the 49ers give Armstead a ton of cash, there’s no reason Buckner shouldn’t ask to get paid also—whether this year or next. If Armstead makes a sacrifice or hometown discount to stay with the 49ers, perhaps Buckner follows suit and would be happy doing it as well.
Depending on how this deal goes, it could also be something to show for Emmanuel Sanders and Jimmie Ward. If Armstead doesn’t take the keys to Citibank, it could begin a ripple effect where the other free agents also agree to make everything align with the salary cap; in other words, they take the lesser money to keep the team together and win championships. Armstead has been viewed as having a deal that should include several Hawaiian islands given how good he played in 2019, so how the 49ers structure this, and what Armstead will agree to is something to watch not just for the 49ers’ salary cap, but also for what Buckner and the other free agents could be looking for.
Of course, if the 49ers do give Armstead the world, other players will want that as well. If that happens, it’s obvious someone is walking at that point. Why should Buckner take less than market value when Armstead got paid? Or Jimmie Ward, for that matter.
Given that we’ve had two conflicting reports on Monday, we may never know what is true and if a deal is getting worked out. I felt if anyone left the 49ers, it would be Armstead. From a purely free agent salary standpoint, the 49ers can’t afford him if they want to have any semblance of continuity for the next few years. After Monday, I don’t know what to think. As Abe Lincoln said in a popular internet report, I found: “The problem with the internet is that a lot of what you hear on there isn’t always true.”