The Pittsburgh Steelers entered free agency with two big-ticket players slated to hit the open market. They were able to keep one of them, placing the franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree, but were not able to get defensive tackle Javon Hargrave under contract. Not that they didn’t value him, but they understood the limitations of what their system could offer a defensive tackle.
That’s why he landed a three-year, $13 million per season contract to move across the state, signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, whom he recently told PennLive “the team that was most interested in me” during the process. “It’s a great feeling when a club that’s really interested in you and wants you to feel a part of their program” pursues, you, he said.
With that being the case, he admits that he was never certain that he would be leaving the Steelers, even understanding the realities of the circumstances. He understands that this was entirely about money, that Pittsburgh would not have a lot of cap space, and that they would have to prioritize Dupree over him because of the relative significance of the two positions. Through all of that, he said that it was “real tough” to leave because of the teammates he was leaving behind.
“I’m real close with a lot of my teammates, so it was kind of hard to be leaving them and going on”, he said. “I can’t say I thought fully I was going to leave Pittsburgh, but in the back of my mind, I knew it was a big chance I was, just from seeing a lot of things and them being tight on the cap space, I was kind of ready knowing that it was a chance I would be gone”.
The Steelers originally drafted Hargrave late in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of South Carolina State, the highest they have taken a small-school player in a while. It took the personal scouting of none other than Joe Greene himself to sign off on his incredibly productive college career.
The nose tackle position became a priority that offseason when they lost out on Steve McLendon, who signed with the New York Jets in free agency, so he was able to come in and contribute immediately, wasting no time passing Daniel McCullers on the depth chart.
He logged nearly 500 snaps as a rookie, recording 27 tackles, two sacks, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Over the past two seasons, on 1135 snaps in total, he has put up a combined 109 tackles, including 13 for loss, with 10 and a half sacks, with a forced fumble, developing into one of the most undersung interior defensive linemen in the league.