With the Detroit Lions once again not partaking in the NFL playoffs, here are three pending free agents to focus on while watching the San Francisco 49ers host the Minnesota Vikings in the first NFC Divisional playoff game of the weekend.
The Detroit Lions desperately need a player who can rush the passer opposite Trey Flowers. Arik Armstead is the perfect solution if the 49ers are unable to afford him after the career year he achieved in 2019.
Armstead’s size and versatility make for a unique NFL defensive lineman. The 6’7 giant can play inside or outside. He’s comfortable lining up in either a two, four, or six technique. During the regular season, he provided the San Francisco 49ers with a tremendous 89.8 grade from Pro Football Focus.
Armstead made 35 solo tackles; he totaled 65 total tackles, 11 sacks, and a whopping 43 quarterback hurries. Pro Football Focus also rewarded Arik with an 87.5 run-stopping grade, which is considered elite, along with a respectable 75.6 pass-rushing grade.
The 49ers originally drafted Armstead with the 17th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s been a late bloomer, and part of the risk when considering Arik during the free agency period is understanding he totaled 9 sacks over his first four seasons combined.
The 49ers GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan put a plan in place to create what they’ve called a “Super Bowl” caliber defensive line to anchor their defense. San Fran has spent numerous top-picks across their defensive front in DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, Soloman Thomas in addition to Armstead. They’ve also added free agent Dee Ford to bolster their pass-rush. All of this aids Armstead, as teams can’t afford to double-team him in pass-blocking situations.
He will likely command a Trey Flowers like contract, and that will surely price the Detroit Lions out of his sweepstakes this offseason. Still, with all the pass-rushers available, Armstead may become an afterthought, maybe decreasing his value on the open market. He’s someone Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions need to kick the tires on.