The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly signing defensive end Arik Armstead to a long-term deal, but there’s speculation fellow lineman DeForest Buckner could be on the move.
The news wire and rumor mill are both getting wild for the San Francisco 49ers just ahead of 2020 NFL free agency, which starts on March 18.
One of the team’s big-name free agents, defensive end Arik Armstead, doesn’t appear to be hitting the open market, as NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco reported Monday morning the Niners were inking their 2019 sack leader to a lucrative five-year deal worth up to $85 million with an average annual salary of $17 million.
While the report stated the deal had yet to be signed by all parties, apparently the negotiating stage is now complete.
Armstead, San Francisco’s top pick from the 2015 NFL Draft, enjoyed a career-best year last season, picking up 10 sacks and thriving amid a stacked 49ers defensive line riddled with former first-round talent.
Yet the new deal surely cuts into the team’s abilities to re-sign or extend other notable players on the roster. As of Monday morning, the Niners had just under $10 million in available cap space, according to Over the Cap. Among the big-name free agents the 49ers have set to hit the open market this Wednesday are wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and defensive back Jimmie Ward.
While San Francisco has made overtures about wanting both back, doing so will likely prove to be much more difficult.
Another name to watch in this pending equation is Armstead’s linemate and former teammate at the University of Oregon, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
Buckner hits his fully guaranteed fifth-year option in 2020, which is worth $12.378 million. The 49ers would ideally like to extend Buckner beyond this season, but Maiocco also drew some speculation about the 2016 first-round pick’s immediate and long-term futures:
Buckner and the 49ers have reportedly discussed an extension, although no deals have come to the table. One report suggested Buckner’s camp turned down an offer last offseason.
Perhaps San Francisco has drawn a line in the sand here, and keeping both Buckner and Armstead around for the long run will prove to be difficult. And the cap-stressed Niners could clear a lot of room, netting some much-needed draft capital in return if Buckner is deemed to be the tradable commodity.
There have been numerous bits of speculation suggesting a mega-trade, which is common this time of year. The 49ers, understandably, have been centered around a lot of those deals. So it’s no surprise Buckner’s name has been thrown around a lot amid the speculation.
But the facts remain what they are, at least for now, and Buckner is still with the 49ers.
Yet the Niners still need to consider their cap situation, as well as some of the other pressing deals and contract situations they have on the table.
This storyline probably won’t go away anytime soon.