Missing out on Arik Armstead would've changed Jaguars' strategy in free agency

• If the Texans had traded for Arik Armstead, it might've cleared the path for the Jaguars to make a splash signing in free agency.
October 4, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91)
October 4, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars improved their defensive front when they signed veteran Arik Armstead in free agency. However, the Houston Texans came close to trading for Armstead before free agency. In the end, a potential deal with the San Francisco 49ers didn't materialize, but if they had pulled it off, the division race might've taken a different turn.

Armstead said on his podcast that several teams showed interest in acquiring him when the 49ers released him. The Texans were one of them.

"Free agency was crazy. The Texans tried to trade for me, didn't even want me to become a free agent," Armstead said on Third and Long. "Tried to trade for me, I thought I was going there. The trade fell through. Boom! I ended up hitting free agency, and Buffalo was in the mix. So all you people online talking about the Bills, I don't know where you guys are getting your sources from, but they were in a mix. The Jags, man, the Jags were in the mix. There's a few other teams in the mix."

"But it boiled down to once I was able to have conversations, having some conversations seeing where I best fit, seeing how teams wanted to use me scheme-wise. A lot of conversations about me coming in and helping teams get over the hump man. I consider myself a big-game player, a big-time player in big games. I have a track record of that. The Jags have had lots of good teams these past years, gone to the playoffs," Armstead said.

Armstead said he feels like he had played arguably the best game of his career against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 58. However, he knew that some of his teammates were in line to get paid, so he expected the 49ers to ask him to either restructure his contract or take a pay cut. What the former Oregon Duck didn't imagine is that the 49ers were going to make him such a disrespectful offer.

Ultimately, Armstead signed with the Jaguars, citing his familiarity with general Trent Baalke and the opportunity to compete for a championship as some of the reasons. A first-round pick in 2015, Armstead is still going strong in Year 10.

Even though he dealt with knee and foot injuries last year, the California native registered five sacks and a pass-rush win rate of 13 percent last year, good for 10 best among defensive tackles. Here's Armstead discussing his free-agency experience.

The Jaguars would've had a chance to pursue Danielle Hunter

The fact that the Texans tried to trade for Arik Armstead isn't breaking news. It was reported not long after the Jaguars signed him that they wanted to acquire him in exchange for defensive tackle Maliek Collins. What hasn't been discussed nearly as often is that Houston wouldn't probably have signed Danielle Hunter, paving the way for the Jaguars to acquire him.

The Jaguars had shown interest in Hunter for nearly a year. They tried to trade for him when he got into a contract impasse with the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason and later at the 2023 deadline. In Jacksonville, the two-time Pro Bowl pass rusher would've joined a rotation that includes Josh Allen and Travon Walker.

Granted, it's not a given that the Jags would've inked Hunter. Also, they would have had to face Armstead if he had landed with their division foes, but at least the Texans wouldn't have acquired Hunter.

In the end, it doesn't matter that Armstead was nearly traded to the Texans. He didn't. What matters is that he signed with the Jaguars and is expected to help them reclaim the division.

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