The Philadelphia Eagles made one big move on the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering window and that was ... re-signing Hassan Ridgeway.
Okay, not really. Just checking to see if you’re paying attention. The highlight was obviously signing defensive lineman Javon Hargrave to a three-year, $39 million contract worth $26 million guaranteed. That’s top five 4-3 defensive tackle money. Is Hargrave worth it?
In order to answer that question, I thought it’d benefit BGN readers to get a Pittsburgh Steelers perspective on Hargrave. In order to do that, I reached out to good friend Jeff Hartman (@BnGBlitz) of Behind The Steel Curtain. Here’s what he had to say.
1) Can you summarize Javon Hargrave’s stint in Pittsburgh?
Hargrave was a ridiculously productive player who never saw the field enough in the Steelers’ current defensive system. The Steelers are a sub-package heavy defense, and the nose tackle is typically only used in base packages, which they run less than 25% of the time. However, when Hargrave was on the field he was disruptive. So much so that in 2019, when Stephon Tuitt was lost for the year Hargrave stepped up and filled in playing more overall snaps. Hargrave has matured into a really solid overall player, both as a pass rusher, but also as a run defender. You all got a really good, and young, player worth every penny.
2) What’s the reaction to him leaving? Should the Steelers have kept him?
The Steelers, and their fans, knew the team couldn’t keep both Bud Dupree and Hargrave. Hargrave was more of a part-time player, so the team franchise tagged Dupree. Once that happened, the writing was on the wall for Hargrave to hit pay dirt in free agency. Fans didn’t want to see him leave, but it is part of the process. Almost everyone has done nothing but wish him well ... a great guy.
3) What are Hargrave’s strengths?
Hargrave’s strengths still remain in the pass rush. He is so quick off the ball he reminds me a lot of Geno Atkins for the Bengals. He is able to knife through the line of scrimmage and be disruptive in the backfield. Don’t confuse this with him not being good in run support, because he is, but he is a player who has registered 6 sacks in a season as a part-time player.
4) What are Hargrave’s weaknesses?
Hargrave is not your typical nose tackle, so he might fit well into the Eagles’ defense, but he is a bit undersized for the role of a pure nose tackle. He get lost in the “wash” on stretch run plays at times, and be dominated by bigger offensive linemen, but his game has evolved to the point where this happened very little the past two seasons. Scary part is, he is only going to get better.
5) After playing as a 3-4 nose tackle for the Steelers, do you think Hargave could be even more effective in the Eagles’ 4-3 attacking defensive? Better scheme fit?
I have always though he would be better suited for a 4-3 system based on the fact he will be on the field more. Hargrave is a player who can produce when given the opportunity, and he should get that chance in Philadelphia.
6) Anything else to know about him off the field?
Hargrave is a quiet, but a great guy in the locker room. You won’t get many soundbites from him, but he does all his work on the field. He comes from South Carolina State, a HBCU, and is very proud of this fact. Nickname out of college was “Gravedigger” but given the nickname “J-Wobble” by his teammates his rookie season due to his large “lower half”. Steelers fans will miss Hargrave tremendously, and wish him nothing but the best in the future.
For even more Steelers perspective, check out this BSTC article on Hargrave. And some reaction from Steelers fans: