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Armstead officially released by 49ers, becomes free agent

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The 49ers parted ways with their longest-tenured player.

San Francisco released defensive tackle Arik Armstead, the team announced on Wednesday after the official start of the 2024 NFL league year. The 30-year-old defensive lineman is now a free agent.

Armstead's release comes after he declined a significant pay cut from his scheduled $17.41 million salary for the upcoming 2024 NFL season, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday night.

Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report was first to report Armstead’s decision to become a free agent.

The move is likely to create nearly $2.5 million in salary cap space for the 49ers with the free-agent signing period officially opening on Wednesday.

Due to past signing bonuses and contract conversions, Armstead would still count $25.86 million in dead money for the upcoming season. If the 49ers opt to designate it as a post-June 1 release, the dead money would be split over the next two years.

If the 49ers absorb all of the cap hit this year, Armstead’s salary would be completely wiped off the team’s books next year. That is important because the 49ers will need to create more cap space for next year, when the team will be allowed to give quarterback Brock Purdy a lucrative contract extension.

Armstead, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2015 from the University of Oregon. He appeared in 116 regular-season games with 97 starts. He also started all 12 postseason games in which he appeared and registered eight career sacks in the playoffs.

Armstead was first scheduled for free agency in 2020. The 49ers signed him to a five-year, $85 million contract following a career-best 10 sacks.

He missed 13 games over the past two seasons due to foot and knee issues.

Two days after the 49ers’ loss in the Super Bowl, Armstead said he would require surgery on his right knee this offseason to repair a torn meniscus.

Armstead sustained the injury in the Week 13 game against the Philadelphia Eagles and worked his way back to play in the postseason.

“I thought my season was over after the Philly game,” Armstead said on Feb. 13. “I tore my meniscus, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to come back and put in a lot of hard work to get back for the playoffs. I’ll have to get that taken care of.

“The time window [to return] should be around then [training camp]. So we’ll see how it goes. That’s what I was dealing with. I wouldn’t have missed this run for anything. I’m glad I was able to get back and help my team get to the Super Bowl and try to win one. Our team was too special, and I wouldn’t have missed that for anything.”

Armstead played 53 snaps in the 49ers’ 25-22 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII. He registered six tackles and a quarterback sack.

During his time with the 49ers, Armstead made significant contributions off the field, too.

Armstead was named as the 49ers’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in each of the past four years.

Through his Armstead Academic Project's inception in 2019, more than $2 million has been donated to Sacramento and Bay Area youth. 

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