49ers Release Team Captain After Salary Dispute

49ers: Following their Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs last month, it became clear that the San Francisco 49ers needed to make some tough decisions to maintain their core players for the 2024 season. On Sunday, one of those decisions came to light as reports circulated that star defensive tackle Arik Armstead would be released, adding a surprise free-agent option to the market.

According to Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report, the 49ers, facing salary cap constraints, asked Armstead, their first-round pick in 2015, to accept a pay cut. While Armstead was open to the idea, the two parties couldn’t reach an agreement.

Schultz tweeted on Sunday night, “Sources to @BleacherReport: #49ers star DL Arik Armstead has decided to become a free agent and will be released.”

Armstead, who had a notable performance in the Super Bowl with six tackles and a sack, is now set to explore free agency. He was in the final year of a five-year, $85 million contract, with a base salary of $17.4 million for this year.

Efforts were made to retain Armstead, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “After the 49ers and DL Arik Armstead attempted but failed to work out a restructured contract, San Francisco now plans to release him.” However, Armstead opted to test the free-agent market.

Armstead’s departure leaves a significant void in the 49ers’ defensive line. His absence in Week 15 against the Cardinals resulted in the team allowing 234 rushing yards, their highest of the season since 2017.

Injuries have plagued Armstead in recent seasons, with plantar fasciitis affecting his performance late this season and last year. He missed a total of 13 games over the past two seasons, raising concerns about his durability at age 30.

Despite his injury history, Armstead remains a top-tier interior lineman and a respected leader within the team. He served as captain last year, highlighting his importance both on and off the field.

According to Pro Football Focus, Armstead boasts a grade of 78.4, ranking 16th among qualified defensive linemen in the NFL. He is third on the team in sacks (5.0) and second in quarterback hits (13).

The 49ers face a challenge in replacing Armstead, especially given the lack of experience among their remaining interior linemen. No other player under contract saw significant playing time comparable to Armstead and fellow starter Javon Hargrave last season.

Also Read: Russell Wilson’s Move to Steelers: Impact on QB Situation and Fantasy Outlook

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