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Arik Armstead Excited to Join Jaguars' Defensive Revamp

031824 Arik Armstead Media Availability

JACKSONVILLE – His past was successful. His future begins now.

And when Arik Armstead discusses joining the Jaguars, his personal and professional excitement is evident.

Armstead, who spent his first nine NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, signed last week with the Jaguars as a free agent. He spoke with the media Monday afternoon, emphasizing that he believes he's an ascending player – even entering his 10th season – joining an ascending team.

"I feel like this is the best decision for me and my family," he said. "I'm really excited to get it going."

Armstead during a 20-minute media availability covered multiple topics, including:

  • How he sees himself in the Jaguars' defense under new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.
  • His health, having missed 13 games the past two seasons.
  • His relationship with Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke.

He also said he looks forward to joining a potentially strong defensive front, with Josh Allen and Travon Walker – who played outside linebacker and who likely will play end as the Jaguars move to a four-three defensive scheme – combining for 27.5 sacks last season.

"Obviously those two guys stick out immediately, the type of talent they have, the production they've had in the NFL," Armstead said, adding that he has been in contact with Walker and Allen.

He also added that playing with the duo, and with tackles DaVon Hamilton and Roy Robertson-Harris, "is going to be phenomenal."

"No one can do it on their own," he said. "I've seen a lot of situations where you don't get the full potential out of guys because they're not surrounded with other great players as well. I'm excited to take the field with those guys and learn this new defense together and start that journey."

The Jaguars hired Nielsen as coordinator in January, and Armstead on Monday noted Nielsen's background as a defensive lineman – and a defensive line coach.

"It's tailormade for defensive line," Armstead said of the scheme. "I feel I can play a multitude of roles in it – from lining up on the edge and playing the run to moving inside as a pass rusher. I'm excited to see how the plans are and how they plan on using me."

Armstead, the No. 17 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by the 49ers, started 97 of 116 games over the past nine seasons. He registered 33.5 sacks over that span, including five this past season and a career-high 10 in 2019. He has started 12 playoff games, and his eight sacks in those games were the second-most in 49ers franchise history.

Armstead missed eight games in 2022 with foot injuries and missed the last five games of the 2023 regular season with foot and knee injuries. He underwent surgery on a torn right meniscus in February.

"I'm very confident," Armstead said. "The past couple years I've had some random nagging things going on, but football is a sport with 100 percent injury rate. People want to talk about my past two years. I missed five games last year, but I finished the playoffs, I played in the Super Bowl, and before these past two years, I hadn't missed a game in five years.

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) celebrates a sack against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

"Injuries are a part of sports. I have my plan together in place to make sure I'm putting my body and myself in the best position to be out there for my team. I'm going to do that. I think it's going very well and I plan to have a long career.

"I think I have a good five or six more years in me, so I don't plan on stopping anytime soon."

Armstead on Monday said his knee is "feeling good" following surgery.

"I'll be back very soon and I'm excited about that," he said. "I'm on a very good road to recovery, so I plan on being back to playing football full time very soon when my team needs me."

Baalke, the Jaguars' general manager since 2020, spent 2011-2016 as the 49ers' general manager and selected Armstead in the '15 draft.

"We've had a great relationship," Armstead said. "When we played the Jags, I would always see him pre-game and we would talk with the sentiment of how proud he was of me and how my career has gone. He felt like he made a good decision then, and he feels like he's making a good decision now."

Armstead on Monday said he feels the same way, adding of joining the Jaguars after nine seasons with the team that drafted him: "I've been in one place for a very long time. Coming into a new place, I want to learn the lay of the land, the sayings, how people operate. I don't want to misspeak. I feel like I have a lot of learning to do before I'm able to just run with it."

He added, "The Jags were a good team before me and whenever I enter a situation – not just football, but in life in general – I want to make the place better than what I found."

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