There’s a pretty obvious benefit that comes with playing next to Fletcher Cox on the Eagles’ defensive line.
It’s something Javon Hargrave is pretty excited about.
“I mean, we know who’s gonna get the double team playing with him,” Hargrave said on a conference call with Philly reporters Monday afternoon.
“I pretty much know he’s going to get most of the attention. That can boost me, man.”
Hargrave, 27, agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Eagles last week as the team continues to pour major resources into its defensive line. Playing next to a five-time Pro Bowler like Cox means there will be a lot of 1-on-1s in Hargrave’s future as offensive lines shift their help Cox’s way.
But Hargrave isn’t just excited about playing with Cox in 2020. He listed off the names: Malik Jackson, Brandon Graham, Hassan Ridgeway, Derek Barnett. Hargrave compared it to his defensive line in Pittsburgh, which also included T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Cam Heyward and Stephen Tuitt.
It’s just like I’m back at home with a bunch of dawgs, just ready to eat. I just love when you got a lot of great players around. It really ups your game and helps you get better as a football player.
The Eagles signed Hargrave despite Jackson’s expected return from a Lisfranc injury suffered early in 2019. But after how decimated the Eagles were at defensive tackle last season, they saw how much it hurts their defense when they don’t pair Cox with a guy who can beat a 1-on-1. Heck, during one week last season, the Eagles signed three guys who needed to play that weekend.
There is some projecting when it comes to Hargrave, who played in a 3-4 system for the last four years in Pittsburgh. But even in a 3-4, two-gapping defense as a nose tackle with the Steelers, Hargrave still managed to pick up 14 1/2 sacks in four years and showed tremendous ability to get after the passer.
So now they’re putting him in a one-gapping system known for letting defensive linemen get up the field and attack quarterbacks.
“It’s every D-lineman’s dream to play in a system like this,” said Hargrave, who will be getting back to the play style that made him a third-round pick out of FCS school South Carolina State in 2016.
Even though they needed to project some with Hargrave, the Eagles identified him early in the free agency process and went after him hard. At 27 years old and coming off his rookie contract, Hargrave was a guy the Eagles could sign not as a stopgap but as a long-term piece.
Hargrave said he felt the love. There were other teams interested in him — like the Steelers and Bills — but Hargrave felt like the Eagles were the most interested and that meant a lot to him.
Because of the uncertainty of this NFL offseason, Hargrave isn’t sure how long it will take him to get acclimated to the Eagles, their building and their scheme. There’s a chance OTAs won’t even happen. The good news for Hargrave is that whenever he can get inside the NovaCare Complex, there will be a five-time Pro Bowler waiting to take him under his wing.
“I know there’s a lot to learn from somebody (Cox) that’s been doing it so long and being so good at his craft for so long,” Hargrave said. “I’m just eager to really see how he goes about his day and makes himself good. I don’t know if he’s going to share any of his secrets but I’m just hoping I can get some of them secrets and help me build my career.”
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.