The San Francisco 49ers are doing what they can to keep their Super Bowl title window open heading into the 2024-25 campaign, but they are still making some key changes this offseason. That includes parting ways with defensive tackle Arik Armstead, who was the longest-tenured member on the roster before being released on March 13. Apparently, though, his departure nearly went in a different direction.

Armstead, who signed a three-year contract worth $51 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars almost immediately after entering free agency, claims there were other suitors who were trying to trade for him.

“The Texans tried to trade for me, didn't even want me to become a free agent,” the 30-year-old said on his podcast, Third and Long, per Florida Times-Union's Demetrius Harvey. “I thought I was going there. Trade fell through. Boom, I end up hitting free agency. Buffalo was in the mix…there were a few other teams in the mix.”

What could have been. The two teams Armstead specifically mentions being in pursuit of him are making headlines for the Stefon Diggs trade they completed on Wednesday. Both the Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills are among the most active organizations this offseason, albeit for different reasons.

The Texans are looking to upgrade their roster with quarterback CJ Stroud on his rookie contract, while the Bills cut costs and move on from some of their veteran guys. Armstead could have given the former a strong leadership presence and allow the latter to get back some defensive stability.

Injuries have limited Armstead over the past two seasons, but one can still see the appeal. Evidently, competitive franchises were particularity enamored with him. In the end, though, his vision aligned with a team that is still working to establish its identity.

Can Arik Armstead help Jaguars become more consistent?

“A lot of conversations about me coming in and helping teams get over the hump,” Armstead said. “I consider myself a big-game player…I have a track record of that. And the Jags have had a lot of good teams these past few years, gone to the playoffs (2023).”

The former first-round pick sees Jacksonville's promise and is confident in his ability to be a difference-maker in crunch time. He has eight sacks in 12 career postseason games. Moreover, his experience could be indispensable for a group that is still trying to figure things out.

The Jaguars combusted in the final six weeks of last season, watching their surefire playoff plans stunningly disintegrate. With wide receiver Calvin Ridley joining a divisional rival in the Tennessee Titans, general manager Trent Baalke is putting a greater emphasis on defense. Arik Armstead is a skilled pass-rusher, but there are questions about his effectiveness going forward.

Questions that partially explain why the 49ers decided to split with him in the first place.

Health is a concern for the veteran DT

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

When San Francisco asked Armstead to take a pay cut, a mutual resolution was unlikely. No. 91 was especially offended by the gesture, given that he had spent almost a decade with the team. It is a cruel aspect of the professional sports industry, but executives and owners do not wish to pay players for their past commitment and contributions.

Armstead's future value is murky, to say the least. He recently underwent surgery on his torn meniscus, which he pushed through during the 49ers' playoff run. There is currently no fear of him missing the start of training camp, but bouncing back is not easy for someone with 116 games' worth of mileage on them.

San Fran acquired the healthier and slightly younger Maliek Collins in a trade with the Houston Texans a day after releasing Armstead. Although there are some hard feelings on the former Oregon star's part, the two sides are landing on their feet following the divorce.

The Niners gain much-needed financial flexibility that can be used to address other matters, and Arik Armstead inks a nice deal with the Jaguars. Next season will be a critical one for both squads, so it is possible this saga proves to be quite consequential when the dust settles.