Howie Roseman and his Philadelphia Eagles remained relatively quiet on day one of legal tampering. They watched a few of their players sign with other teams, they re-signed defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and then Howie pulled off his lone acquisition of the day, signing interior defensive lineman Javon Hargrave to a three-year, $39 million deal.
This signing came as a bit of a surprise, given how much money the Eagles already have invested at defensive tackle. With Hargrave making just about $13 million per year, the Birds now have three defensive tackles making an average of over $10 million per year. That’s a lot of capital to put into one position.
One of Howie’s cornerstone team building philosophies is investing assets into his lines, so in that sense, this signing makes sense. Although Hargrave has spent his entire career playing nose tackle in the Steelers 3-4 scheme, he’s showcased some solid pass rushing ability, racking up 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons.
With his experience playing the nose, perhaps defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will mix up his fronts a bit next season — maybe even throw in some 3-4 fronts to confuse offenses. Both Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson have experience playing in a 3-4 system, as well as Brandon Graham and Genard Avery.
At the very least, expect Schwartz to throw several different combinations of defensive linemen at offensive lines next season. Jackson will likely mix in as a defensive tackle as well as a defensive end from time to time. Graham has been doing that for years now, so don’t expect that to change.
While there are clearly bigger needs on this team, fans should still be excited about this signing. Getting this team’s pass rush back to what it was in 2017 is imperative, and arguably more important than signing an expensive defensive back.
A strong pass rush makes everyone’s life easier on the defensive side of the ball. Average to below average corners can survive if they have an elite pass rush to fall back on. Hargrave notched 49 quarterback pressures last season, more than his previous two seasons combined (41) according to Pro Football Focus.
Whether you love or hate this signing, bringing in more defensive line help was a foregone conclusion this offseason, and Howie quietly got one of the best interior defensive lineman on the market.