Niners Offseason What If: Trade Armstead For Bryant?
The 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing once again for another postseason run. Led by the “Killer Bees” Bell, Ben and Brown, the Steelers have the personnel to be competitive on a weekly basis. Rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster has established himself as the number two receiver on a very deep receiving core.
Losing targets to a rookie would be understandable if he clearly was the better player, but when you are an elite level receiver like Martavis Bryant, that could start a friction which could lead to an inferno.
Avoiding potential locker room distractions is something Pittsburgh does very well. The Steelers are an organization who is not afraid of getting rid of players regardless of their talent. Just ask Mike Wallace, Emanuel Sanders and most recently James Harrison. As soon as players complain about not getting enough touches or playing time, they don’t last too long in the Steel City.
Arik Armstead is a long, powerful defensive lineman with tremendous athleticism, but his skillset is better suited for a 3-4 defense, where he has proven to be an effective defensive end.
The 49ers are asking Armstead to play the ‘Leo’, whose primary goal is to set the edge on run plays and get after the quarterback on passing downs.
In Robert Saleh’s 4-3 under defense, Armstead would most likely excel as a 3-technique, but that position has already solidified by DeForest Buckner, who is an all-around better athlete.
Even though Armstead started off the season as a solid starter, the 49ers already have a ton on depth along the defensive line. The coaching staff knows he is not a perfect scheme fit, so it seems as if Armstead would make excellent trade bait. And who would be a better fit for him than a team known for their dominant play on the defensive side of the football, the Mighty Pittsburgh Steelers.
After losing Ryan Shazier to a possible career-ending injury, the Steelers could use a veteran like Armstead to help anchor that Steel Curtain defense. It’s no secret that Martavis Bryant was very unhappy earlier in the season when he was supplanted by a 20 year old rookie.
Bryant wouldn’t have that problem as a 49er because he would be the clear-cut, number one wide receiver from day one, probably averaging somewhere between 7-15 targets a game. The 49ers haven’t had a dynamic playmaker at wide receiver in almost two decades and that includes not one single Pro Bowl appearance at wide receiver since Terrell Owens, which is mind-boggling.
Bryant has showed off his acrobatic catching ability many times over his young NFL career, but is overshadowed because he plays next to arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in Antonio Brown.
Armstead and Bryant are both set to be free agents in 2019. If the Steelers decline Armstead and demand a draft pick, should John Lynch still pull the trigger?
A 2017 3rd Round pick would be well worth it, if in fact Bryant does turn out to be a cornerstone for the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo to Martavis Bryant would be an awesome reality for Niner fans.
If somehow Lynch can convince the Steelers to trade Martavis Bryant, the 49ers may very well be the comeback team of the year in 2018.
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