The Eagles have agreed to terms with former Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave on a three-year contract, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Monday.
The contract won’t become official until after the NFL league year begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The deal is worth $39 million with $26 million guaranteed, according to Rosenhaus.
While many fans had hoped the Eagles would make a free-agency splash at positions of need such as cornerback or wide receiver, general manager Howie Roseman stayed true to his philosophy — at least here in the early going — of building from the lines out.
Hargrave, 27, was the starting nose tackle in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 base defense, but his role in Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 scheme will be different. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Hargrave wasn’t just a running-down lineman with the Steelers. He played as many passing-down snaps and was a productive rusher.
He recorded 14½ sacks and 22 quarterback hits in his first four seasons. He was credited with 43 quarterback hurries last season by Pro Football Focus, which was the highest percentage of hurries among NFL interior linemen with more than 250 pass-rush snaps.
Hargrave joins an accomplished group of Eagles defensive tackles. Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, and Hasaan Ridgeway, who signed a one-year contract Monday before hitting free agency, are set to return in 2020. Cox was voted to his fifth Pro Bowl last season, although injuries hampered his performance.
Jackson, who signed a three-year, $30 million contract last offseason, suffered a season-ending foot injury in the opener last season. While snap distribution could be considered an issue with three prominent inside rushers, Schwartz likes to keep a deep bench, and Jackson and Cox are both versatile enough to bump outside to end.
The Eagles struggled to overcome the early-season loss of Jackson. Ridgeway also suffered a season-ending ankle injury in October.
The addition of Hargrave spells the end for Tim Jernigan, who toiled through two injury-marred seasons in Philadelphia.
Jernigan, too, played in a 3-4 scheme with his first team, the Ravens. The Eagles thought that his skills would translate to Schwartz’s aggressive, one-gap system for his linemen. But Jernigan struggled with the switch and was a better run defender than pass rusher with the Eagles.
Hargrave, who was selected in the third round of the 2016 draft out of South Carolina State, has already proven himself on passing downs, but he will be asked to learn a new defense in Philly.