Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave has reached an agreement on a three-year, $39 million free agent contact with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN, with $26 million guaranteed.
Hargrave, 27, was the Steelers’ third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He quickly became a fixture in the center of Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defensive front, starting 13 games as a rookie and playing in 63 of the Steelers’ 64 games since he joined the club, with 52 of them coming as a starter.
Steelers’ nose tackles have long been under-appreciated statistically because of their two-gap job in stopping the run, but the relatively slender Hargrave (6-foot-2, 305 pounds) was able to be stout at the point of attack and get up field in passing situations.
When the Steelers lost Stephon Tuitt to injuries in 2018 and 2019, Hargrave stepped into a greater role in the team’s sub package defense.
His stats reflect his growth. He set career highs in tackles (49), sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (6) in 2018 and then broke his tackles (60) and tackles for loss (7) marks in 2019 while adding four more sacks to his career total of 14.5.
With Hargrave’s growth and the Steelers’ dire salary cap situation entering the 2020 offseason, his departure was a relatively expected one. When the Steelers extended a $15.9 million franchise tag to Bud Dupree earlier on Wednesday, it made the idea of re-signing Hargrave untenable.
With the Eagles, Hargrave will transition to a 4-3 scheme and he will likely replace free-agent-to-be Tim Jernigan at right defensive tackle.
Hargrave will leave a hole in the middle of the Steelers’ defensive line, with veteran backup Daniel McCullers the only other defensive tackle on the roster.