Updated, 8:33 p.m.
The Eagles have agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with Steelers free agent Javon Hargrave, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark. ESPN first reported the deal.
It’s a little bit of a strange move, because Hargrave is an interior lineman, and defensive tackle appears to be one of the Eagles’ strongest positions going into the offseason.
Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is signed through 2023 at $23 million per year, Malik Jackson is signed through 2022 at $10 million per year and the Eagles re-signed interior lineman Hassan Ridgeway, one of their own free agents, earlier Monday.
Hargrave is 27 and has never made a Pro Bowl. He’s 6-foot-2, 305 pounds, and has spent his career with the Steelers playing in a 3-4 defense, but he does have some pass rush ability, with 14 1/2 sacks as a pro and 10 1/2 over the last two years.
According to Spotrac, Hargrave’s deal makes him the sixth-highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL, behind only Aaron Donald, Cox, Grady Jarrett, Geno Atkins and Jurrell Casey. All have made multiple Pro Bowls except Jarrett, who made his first last year.
Earlier in the day, two players that would seem to have made more sense for the Eagles - corners James Bradberry and Byron Jones - agreed to multi-year deals worth at least $15 million per year with the Giants and Dolphins.
Hargrave is a solid pro, but defensive tackle just did not seem to be on the Eagles' radar. Jackson suffered a Lysfranc foot sprain in the Eagles’ opener against the Redskins last year and you would expect him to be fine for next year, but perhaps this acquisition is a sign that the Eagles have questions about his health. But that’s pure speculation.
Hargrave entered the league as a third-round pick of the Steelers in 2016 out of South Carolina State. He’s started 52 of 63 games for the Steelers and is credited with 168 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery return for a touchdown in 2016 against the Browns after he recovered Josh McCown’s fumble.
With that $13 million annual average salary, Hargrave becomes the sixth-highest-paid Eagle, behind only Carson Wentz and four other linemen - Lane Johnson, Cox, Brandon Brooks and Brandon Graham.
The Eagles have eight players under contract averaging at least $10 million per year, and three of them - Cox ($17 million average), Hargrave ($13 million) and Jackson ($10 million) are defensive tackles.
Jackson and Cox both have the ability to line up outside, so Hargrave’s addition does give defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz some flexibility as to where he lines everybody up. Hargrave would be considered purely an interior lineman.
Plus, Schwartz loves to rotate his defensive linemen. And now he has a lot of them to rotate.
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