2020 NFL Free Agency: Early predictions for top 25 players

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images /
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San Francisco 49ers
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18. DT Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers

2019 Salary: $9,046,000

Where he will sign: Carolina Panthers

I’m sure the San Francisco 49ers would love to find a way to keep Arik Armstead on the roster. Over the years, he’s emerged as one of the league’s most disruptive and versatile defensive lineman, picking up 19 sacks — including 10 so far this year.

Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely they’re going to find a way to pay him what he wants without dooming themselves from a salary cap standpoint. Right now, they’re estimated to have only $19 million available when 2020 NFL free agency gets underway. On top of that, the 49ers already have nearly $40 million invested in three other players along the defensive line.

Put simply, Armstead won’t be returning in 2020.

Despite racking up plenty of sacks throughout the 2019 campaign, the Carolina Panthers could use an upgrade along the defensive line. Gerald McCoy and Vernon Butler are both pending free agents, and Dontari Poe and Kawaan Short are coming off injury-shortened seasons. It’s time for an upgrade to some younger blood.

Armstead fits the bill as a disruptive interior presence who can be a nightmare for opposing offenses. He crashes into backfields with ease and should help give the Panthers a reliable force along the defensive front for years to come.