Armstead felt ‘extremely disrespected' by 49ers' final contract offer

Armstead felt ‘extremely disrespected' by 49ers' final contract offer originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Although defensive tackle Arik Armstead said he feels no animosity toward the 49ers organization, he made it clear that the team's final contract offer to him was an insult.

“They extended an offer to me of $6 million for a one year deal with incentives to go up to like eight [million]. And when they when they sent that over, I did feel extremely disrespected,” Armstead said on his podcast, “Third and Long,” that was posted Thursday.

Armstead spent roughly the first 15 minutes of his podcast explaining how the offseason played out, with him ultimately ending up signing a three-year Jacksonville Jaguars contract.

“Nine years of me being there,” Armstead said. “The fans deserve to know what happened. You know, I had to make some decisions.”

Armstead was scheduled for salary and bonuses totaling $18.26 million with the 49ers for the 2024 NFL season. However, San Francisco proposed a significant pay cut in order for him to remain with the team.

Armstead opened his podcast by listing his goals heading into the 2023 NFL season, which were to win a Super Bowl, be selected to the Pro Bowl and earn a third contract that paid him $20 million a season.

"My goal, I had [written] it down at the beginning of the season," Armstead said. "I wanted to sign a four-year, $80 million contract. That was the goal of mine. That's the player that I felt that I am. And also, players of my caliber, that's what they make."

But Armstead admitted he knew his contract goals could mean the 49ers might not be able to afford to keep him.

"Heading into this season, I felt like I might play myself out of being in San Francisco," Armstead said. "I kind of had that sense and that feeling a little bit heading into the season, that it was a possiblity. I understand the business of football. I can see it. It would be hard to have two $20 million D-tackles and a $30 million defensive end and all this talent on our team. It's an abundance of talent.

"I was like, 'Man, that's neither here nor there. I know what my goals are and let's get to it this season. We've got an amazing team and let's go win the Super Bowl and see what happens.' "

Armstead tore his meniscus against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13 but decided to play through the injury in the postseason rather than opting for surgery.

"Immediately following the Super Bowl, felt like I played well in the playoffs, one of my best games, maybe my best game of my career in the Super Bowl," Armstead said. "And I felt like all was good. Like I felt like I did what I needed to do to improve and show the type of player that I am to my team, to the rest of the league, to everybody, to myself."

Armstead said the 49ers approached him early in the offseason and added they wanted him to extended him, but didn't tell him what the contractual number might be. He said that later in the offseason, the 49ers told him he would need him to take a "significant pay cut," which is where the $6 million contract offer comes into play.

"I don't have any animosity towards the organization," Armstead said. "Kyle [Shanahan], John [Lynch], the York family have a lot of respect and admiration for them and my time with them and even with this situation, like it's not on me to decide how they want to build their team and who they want to pay and how they want to build their roster.

"That's that's not my decision. Business is business. But also in football, business mixes with personal. We have personal relationships as coaches and as executives. And I know them and they know me. They've been around me for seven years. So business does mix with personal. And that's why these situations are tough because, it's just more than just numbers. We're dealing with people and we're dealing with good people and so I understand that football business, you have to make tough, tough decisions."

The 49ers' $6 million contract offer caused Armstead to question his own value.

"And so in that moment, it was definitely tough," Armstead said. "I had to make some decisions. I played hurt. I got surgery after the Super Bowl. So, there's that. I don't know how other teams or would view that. My team is telling me that they see me at this level of worth, which I don't agree with, but I also don't know what other teams think either.

"So for a moment I started to question for a split second -- it's crazy how being in this position, you'll start to even question yourself a little bit. For a split seconds, I was like, 'Dang, am I really not like that? Nah bruh, ain't no way bruh. Ain't no way I'm not. Nah.

"So for a split second, I was even second guessing myself, like 'Damn, like maybe I'm really not like that.' And then talking to my wife, talking to my agent, and then just talking to myself, I was like, 'Man, nah. Bro, if 32 teams had an opportunity for me to be on their team for $6 million, I think every team in the league would do that in a heartbeat."

Armstead said he couldn't accept the 49ers' $6 million contract for two reasons. He wouldn't be able to live with himself and walk back into the team facility. He also worried about what kind of precedent it would set for other players in his position. Would the 49ers or another team expect similar players of his stature to accept a significant pay cut?

"I asked for my release," Armstead said. "I gave the opportunity for the Niners to come up on their offer but I had to see what else was out there. Had to see if other teams thought I was the player that I know I am and value that. And that was definitely hectic and it was super stressful. And with all that being said, that's why I'm no longer a Niner."

General manager John Lynch said this week that the 49ers had brief trade talks with the Houston Texans regarding Armstead.

Armstead’s representation had the opportunity to speak with teams prior to the start of the free-agent signing period in order to determine his market value.

When Armstead declined to accept the 49ers’ new contract proposal, he was released.

That move created more than $18 million in salary cap space for the 49ers this year.

With a post-June 1 designation, Armstead’s cap hit of “dead money” will be spread out over two years. He will count for $10.31 million on the salary cap this year and $15.55 million next year.

“Ultimately, he wanted to go see his value, and good for him because it was robust,” Lynch said. “You saw what he got in Jacksonville.”

Armstead signed a three-year, $43.5 million contract with $28 million in guarantees — figures that were considerably higher than what the 49ers were willing to pay him.

“Ultimately, he chose to bet on himself,” Lynch said, “and I think he made a good call because his market was there.”

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