There was a ton of speculation on how the 49ers might handle the 2020 offseason after a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss, but almost nobody thought parting with DeForest Buckner was part of their plans.
Yet that’s what happened on Tuesday, the team trading the Pro Bowl defensive tackle to Indianapolis for a first-round pick, a day after paying Arik Armstead a lucrative multi-year deal.
The decision was certainly more complex than simply choosing Armstead over Buckner, and more about knowing they couldn’t pay both, and moving the player with the highest value on the open market. 49ers beat writer Matt Barrows told Papa & Lund that a deal for Buckner has been in the works for a while, and all started with a conversation with his agent early this offseason.
“They start meeting with these agents just prior to the scouting combine,” Barrows said. “So they met with Joel Segal who has a reputation for driving a very hard bargain, he’s Khalil Mack’s agent for example. Joel made it clear from the get-go that ‘this is what we’re after for this guy,’ and the 49ers realized ‘oh boy, that’s not really close to the number we see us paying for DeForest Buckner.’
“I think it was at the combine, which makes sense because that’s always where the seeds of trades begin, they began talking to other teams about a trade for DeForest Buckner. The Colts, the hometown team in Indianapolis (site of the combine) obviously, were the biggest takers on that. I think obviously the 13th overall pick was very appealing to the 49ers, who are obviously short on good picks in this upcoming draft.”
The Colts and Buckner agreed to a five-year deal that will pay him an average of $21 million per year. Armstead’s deal is worth up to $85 million over the next five years, with just 48.5 million guaranteed.
Listen to the interview below.