How did linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong, who started five games for the San Francisco 49ers and is that team’s second-leading tackler this season, come to be available to the New York Giants via waivers?
The 27-year-old Armstrong was signed to a two-year contract by the 49ers last December. That signing, though, was made by former San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke.
Armstrong is a smallish 6-foot-3, 220-pound weakside linebacker. In four seasons for three teams (the 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders) he had started only five games entering the 2017 season. He started five games this season in place of rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, a first-round pick taken 31st overall, who has played in only five games due to injury.
Armstrong played only one snap in Weeks 9 and 10 combined before being waived by new 49ers GM John Lynch.
The Giants have placed six linebackers — Mark Herzlich, J.T. Thomas, Keenan Robinson, Nigel Harris, Curtis Grant, Deontae Skinner) on IR this season. That made them desperate for help at the position now.
What can Armstrong bring, and with him signed through 2018 can he be part of the team’s linebacking corps in 2018?
Here is David Fucillo of of SB Nation’s NinersNation on what the Giants are getting:
Armstrong has great athleticism, and can get all around the field. When he's on his game, he's a solid cover linebacker who can pounce and make the necessary tackles. This also means he can be a capable special teams player.
The problem is that he is not assignment sound often enough. I don't know if "freelancing" is the right word, but he does not seem like the most consistent player when it comes to sticking to his assignment and doing his thing. I was a little surprised the 49ers released him given their lack of depth, but Brock Coyle knows defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's defense and is a more consistent performer. They had enough other areas of need to fill that they decided Armstrong was a luxury they did not need.
Four of the Giants’ eight linebackers — Armstrong, Jeremy Cash (also signed Monday), Kelvin Sheppard, Akeem Ayers — were just added to the roster this month.
Can Armstrong show in five games that he can be more than simply a body needed to fill a roster for the remainder of the season? We will see.