Javon Hargrave has no ill-will towards the Pittsburgh Steelers. It helped create the foundation of his career. But the Philadelphia Eagles are a better fit for him and his talent, a fact he didn’t hide in a recent interview with Andscape.com. Comparing and contrasting his experiences on each side of the state, Hargrave said the Eagles give him more freedom to make plays.
“In Pittsburgh, I didn’t really play as much like I’m playing in Philadelphia, but when I got to Philly, they just cut me loose,” he told the site’s Mia Berry. “They put me in good situations to win.”
A third round pick of the Steelers in 2016 out of South Carolina State, he was a rare example of the organization drafting a player before the FCS level, especially that early in the draft. In fact, Pittsburgh hadn’t done that in the top three rounds since 2004 when they swung and miss on Tusculum CB Ricardo Colclough in the second round. But Hargrave proved his worth in the college All-Star games, including dominating the Senior Bowl after being added mid-week (for his first practice, they didn’t even have a school helmet to give him) and DL Coach John Mitchell went to his Pro Day to check him out.
Hargrave worked as a new-school nose tackle with the Steelers, getting upfield and playing more aggressively. Still, pass rush opportunities were more limited, often taken off the field for Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. He broke out in 2018 with 6.5 sacks but left the team after the 2019 season, signing with the Eagles in free agency for big money.
With Philadelphia, his sack numbers have slowly and steadily been on the rise. 4.5 in 2020, 7.5 in 2021, and 11 in 2022, hitting a career-high in a contract year. He’s part of an Eagles’ defense that offers one of the best pass rushes in NFL history, recording 70 sacks this year. In NFL history, only the 1984 Chicago Bears (72) and the 1989 Minnesota Vikings (71) have racked up more in a year. Hargrave is one of four Eagles with 11+ sacks. Their 4-3 defense allows him to penetrate and gap shoot even more and he’s staying on the field. In Pittsburgh, he only played 60% of the snaps once. In Philadelphia, he’s done it each of the last two years.
While the Eagles are a better fit, Hargrave remains thankful for his time with the Steelers.
“I just grew up. I think Pittsburgh helped me, too, but I grew up here in Philadelphia.”
Now he’ll have the chance to do something else he couldn’t do in Pittsburgh. Win a Super Bowl. Whatever happens Sunday, there will be one ex-Steeler getting their ring be it Hargrave or Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.