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49ers reportedly plan to release DL Arik Armstead after he declined 'significant' pay cut

The San Francisco 49ers intend to release defensive lineman Arik Armstead after the two sides failed to agree on a restructured contract, according to multiple media reports.

Per NBC's Matt Maiocco, Armstead declined to take "a significant pay cut" to his scheduled salary of $17.4 million next season on the final year of his five-year, $85 million contract. He'll hit the market as a free agent.

NFL's free agency period officially starts Wednesday. News of Armstead's pending release arrives before the Monday start of the so-called tampering period that allows teams and pending free agents to negotiate.

Armstead, 30, has played his entire nine-season NFL career with the 49ers. He's been a key piece of San Francisco's pass rush and started for two teams that advanced to the Super Bowl. He was the longest-tenured player on the team.

Arik Armstead is reportedly moving on after nine seasons in San Francisco. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Arik Armstead is reportedly moving on after nine seasons in San Francisco. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images) (Cooper Neill via Getty Images)

Armstead signed his $85 million deal following the 2019 season that saw him tally a career-high 10 sacks. In the four seasons since, he totaled 14.5 sacks, including his five-sack campaign in 2023. He also tallied 27 tackles, 13 quarterback hits and four tackles for loss in 12 games. He recorded six tackles and a sack of Patrick Mahomes in February's Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Armstead's contract was scheduled to count $28.4 million against San Francisco's salary cap next season. Depending on how and when it's designated, his release reportedly could open up anywhere from $2.5 million to $18 million in cap space.

Per The Athletic's Dave Lombardi, the latter option would require a post-June 1 release designation, an unlikely scenario given that Armstead's release is reportedly pending. A release ahead of free agency would net the 49ers $2.5 million in cap space.

The 49ers need as much help as they can get with the cap if they intend to make any moves in free agency. Per Spotrac, they're scheduled to enter free agency $3.4 million over the cap, a number that's calculated without considering Armstead's release. The 49ers have other significant decisions to make on the defensive line, including with trade-deadline acquisition Chase Young.