Philadelphia Eagles DT Javon Hargrave is finally starting to stuff the stat sheet.
When the Philadelphia Eagles pounced on Javon Hargrave in free agency – handing out a massive $39 million contract – the move was met with a bit of confusion. The team already had a franchise defensive tackle in Fletcher Cox (who makes $20+ million per year), and they were expecting Malik Jackson to return from injury as well ($10 million AAV).
Considering the fact that the Eagles were entering the 2020 offseason with holes at cornerback, safety, and linebacker, the general consensus was that said money could’ve been spent better elsewhere. While the potential of a Cox/Hargrave/Jackson trio wrecking havoc on the league was high – it was unknown if it would be good enough to mask multiple other deficiencies on defense.
Hargrave missed the entirety of training camp due to injury, and didn’t officially debut with the Eagles until Week 2. Even understanding the context of Hargrave missing some time, early on, the signing was looking like one giant mistake.
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The veteran DT didn’t log a single stat in Weeks 2, 3, and 6, and had just 1.5 sacks through his first ten games with Philadelphia. He was doing a decent job “filling space” alongside Cox and Jackson, but that’s not what he was brought in to do. He was widely regarded as a strong pass-rushing DT in Pittsburgh, and his inability to get to the quarterback through the first twelve weeks of 2020 was a major red flag.
To go with his 1.5 sacks, he also had just 2 TFLs and 4 quarterback hits through the first twelve weeks. “Disappointing” would be an understatement, especially considering the lofty contract that the Philadelphia Eagles handed him in the offseason.
However, with Hargrave starting to get accustomed to Jim Schwartz’ unique 4-3 scheme, the production has finally started to follow. He had a sack, TFL, and QB hit against the Packers last week, and then absolutely exploded against the Saints this past Sunday. He finished the afternoon with two sacks, four tackles, two TFLs, three QB hits, and one fumble recovery. It was without question his best game as a Philadelphia Eagle, and his presence undoubtedly helped Philly secure their upset victory.
With Hargrave performing to a high level in back-to-back weeks, the universal hope is that it was just a matter of getting accustomed to a new scheme, or fully recovering from his offseason injury. Now that he’s 100% locked into his role, good performances should in theory continue to be cranked out by the former Steeler.
Hargrave is owed $15.2 million in 2021, so it’s borderline impossible to imagine him going anywhere this upcoming offseason. The Eagles will likely move on from Malik Jackson instead – fully committing to the Cox/Hargrave partnership up the middle of the defensive line. If Hargrave continues to play the way he has been the last two weeks, this should prove to be one of the better DT duos in all of football.
Personally speaking, I think the decision to hand a DT2 $39 million is still a tad strange. It feels like that money could’ve been better spent elsewhere, but now it’s just a matter of getting the most out of Hargrave and his monster salary. Play the way he did against New Orleans – and he’ll be well worth the money.