Don’t start singing the song now, gumshoes, but….Where in the world is Armond Armstead??
Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels asked the same question in his article on June 17th, and pulled out all the stops to find out everything he could about Armstead’s status for 2014.
Here’s the CliffsNotes version: All we know is that we don’t know anything, and we know that for sure.
If Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly hadn’t been injured early in the season and sent to IR, we probably wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But with the Patriots’ defensive line more full of question marks than the Riddler’s 3-piece suit, Armstead’s whereabouts (or lack thereof) are a completely legit question to ask.
As a rookie in the Canadian Football League, Armond’s resume was just as stacked as his physique; he was a CFL All-Star in 2012, and his team, the Toronto Argonauts, hoisted the Grey Cup (the CFL equivalent to the Super Bowl) with a regular season record of 9-9. For a guy who had a heart attack in 2011, that’s a pretty solid turnaround, and after the 2012 CFL season, the Argonauts released Armstead at his request, and he signed with the Patriots just a couple weeks later (literally).
Everyone knows the rest of the story: Armstead had surgery in July 2013 for an “undisclosed infection”, which immediately landed him on the reserve/non-football injury list (and also sounds very X-Files-ish to fans and journalists alike). According to Mark Daniels’ reporting, Armand was at Gillette Stadium for offseason workouts on May 30th, working with other rehabbing players, but NESN’s Doug Kyed indicated otherwise earlier this month, saying Armstead was absent on June 5th.
And aside from praising the former USC D-lineman’s character and work ethic, Bill Belichick didn’t have much to add about Armstead’s status.
“Armond’s really worked hard. He’s had a lot of adversity personally that he’s had to deal with. Unusual compared to most other players,” Belichick said. “He’s had a great attitude, worked hard. He’s really done everything we’ve asked him to do.”
At least the story among the Patriots that spoke to the press was consistent, with defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich elaborating “I think that he’s a young kid who has done a great job of trying to come into the Patriots and work hard. Obviously there have been issues that are out of his control. I don’t want to speak on his behalf of anything that’s ever happened to him, but as far as his personality goes, he’s a teammate that you want to have around. He’s working hard and trying to get better. You really can’t ask for anything more.”
Is there an echo in here?
On the upside, Armstead’s cap hit isn’t huge, relatively speaking (scheduled to make $495,000 this season, $250,000 guaranteed), so if Belichick and the team truly believe he can contribute to the Patriots once he gets over whatever “adversity” he’s dealing with, it’s not as though his deal is dragging the team down.
One last thought: If Bill Belichick is cutting guys from the team for being a few minutes late, there’s got to be some good reason a kid who has yet to play a down in the NFL still has a locker with his name on it.