It was bound to happen sooner or later, but the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost their first player from the 2019 season via free agency. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Javon Hargrave has signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Former Steelers’ NT Javon Hargrave reached agreement with the Eagles on a three-year, $39m deal with $26M fully guaranteed, @RosenhausSports tells ESPN. Hargrave becomes the highest paid nose tackle in the NFL.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 17, 2020
It is not really that big of a surprise the Steelers were unable to retain Hargrave following his rookie contract. A third-round pick out of South Carolina State, Hargrave exceeded expectations and became a dominant force on the Steelers defensive line.
With the Steelers already paying Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward hefty contracts, both of which are in the top five on the Steelers, it just was not realistic for the Steelers to devote so much money at a given position group. With Hargrave obviously commanding top dollar, his departure was inevitable.
Looking on the bright side, Hargrave getting such a large payday will help with the Steelers compensatory formula for 2021. Commanding per season almost what Le’Veon Bell did in 2019, Hargrave should carry at least a fourth round compensatory pick if not enough to qualify for a third-round designation. Depending on how high salaries escalate this season, it will be difficult to estimate Hargrave’s exact compensatory value until later in the offseason.
With several other players from the Steelers hitting free agency, Hargrave may command the highest contract but will not be the only Steelers’ player from 2019 who will move on. Although the Steelers would like to retain guard/center B.J. Finney, it will be interesting to see what deal he may get on the open market. Other players such as Hargrave’s draft mates Artie Burns and Sean Davis could also be other free agents signed over the next few weeks.
As much as the loss of Javon Hargrave will hurt, the Steelers still have other pieces in play on the defensive line. With Hayward and Tuitt locked in the defensive tackle positions as long as they are healthy, other players such as Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, or even Daniel McCullers could be in line to fill-in due to Hargrave’s departure.
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