Arik Armstead, DE
The Seahawks stay in the division again and signs the 49ers standout defensive lineman. Armstead is coming off his best year as a pro where he registered 11 sacks, 22 QB hits, 11 tackles for a loss, and 2 forced fumbles. Last season Armstead finished the year with a top 10 defensive end PFF rating of 89.8.
While Armstead definitely enjoyed a breakout year this season in terms of hard stats, he has consistently averaged 8.4-12% pressure rate. To put this into perspective, this is only marginally lower than Jadeveon Clowney’s average of 9.3-12.2% pressure rate. Teams often value the pressure rate over hard stats because it shows how often the individual player beats his man, as opposed to luck falling his way and getting a sack.
Armstead will fit in seamlessly in former-Seahawks defensive tackle Michael Bennett’s old role. He has the ability to move between DT and DE effortlessly. This is in part because of his hulking frame at 6’7”, 295lbs. With Seattle signing Dante Fowler as the LEO (pure pass rusher), Armstead would fit into the base end spot and dominate both the pass and rush. More or less, he would anchor the defensive line.
A couple of reasons Armstead could be a better long term signing than Clowney. First, Armstead doesn’t have near the injury issues Clowney has had thus far in his career. He has been completely healthy and played all 16 games over each of the last two seasons. Armstead has the ability to bounce between DT and DE where Clowney is purely a DE.
Finally, Armstead should be available for slightly less money than Clowney. Reports are out Clowney is asking for $22-23 million per year. While I think that is slightly north of where he will land, I can’t see Armstead getting much more than $17.5 per season.
Projected contract: 4 years, $70 million ($17.5 million APY), $40 million guaranteed