What looked like the deepest position on our team at the start of the season, the defensive line, has some major problems to iron out. Elk Grove High’s own Arik Armstead, the guy who grinded away in relative obscurity as De Fo shined, and the rest didn’t, is suddenly on the edge of either being franchised, franchised and traded, or given a hefty deal to remain with the team.
After a flat start to his NFL career under DCs Eric Mangeniuos and Jim (who?) O’Neill, Robert Saleh saw enough in AA’s ability to hold off linemen and set the edge that he was signed to his 5th year option despite only playing 6 games in 2017. The gamble paid off in spades as AA anchored a defense that wasn’t spectacular, but was making headway to being respectable. He went from little production to 48 tackles, 12 QB hits, and 3 sacks. With the addition of Bosa, Ford, and Alexander, among others, AAs sack total jumped to 10 with hios 18 QB hits and 58 tackles.
Thing is now, the rest of the line is banged up pretty bad. And those that aren’t banged up are free agents. Ronald Blair amd Jullian Taylor are both likely to remain on the sidelines as they deal with their ACL tears. K Street, who has been a ghost with his knee injuries, doesn’t look to be much more that a spot back-up, and Damontre Moore, who looked great coming in for Blair isn’t under contract. DJ Jones at least is under contract one more year, and looks to recover from his ankle injury, so there’s that.
So, the interesting thing to look at now I suppose is, do we go after edge rushers when the free agency market opens up next week? If we go hard after some guys, I guess that means we aren’t looking to keep Blair, who is a free agent as well, and may not get the deal he wants while he rehabs.
Armstead? He played such a pivotal role last year, that it would be hard to replace him. Then again, he benefitted wildly from the guys we added around him. Like Aldon Smith with Justin Smith in front of him, there’s a point to be made that we could tag and trade AA for much-needed draft choices. Simply plug in another guy who can benefit from our other superior linemen.
Sounds good, but I’d rather lose Blair, find another backup, and keep AA.