3 reasons Steelers won’t re-sign Javon Hargrave this offseason
The Steelers have a big decision to make when it comes to a contract extension for Javon Hargrave. Here’s why a deal is unlikely to get done.
The Steelers have a lot of offseason priorities and not nearly enough money to complete them all. Mike Tomlin made it a point in his post-season press conference to say Bud Dupree’s contract extension is a “priority” this offseason. But what about defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.
Hargrave, the former third-round draft choice by the Steelers back in 2016, is set to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent unless Pittsburgh finds a way to get a deal done soon. Over the course of his first four years, he recorded 168 tackles, 14.5 sacks, and 22 tackles for a loss.
Despite being one of the more consistent and reliable players on the team, there are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the Steeler’s ability to get a deal done with the big defensive tackle. Here are three reasons why Javon Hargrave will be playing for a different team in 2020:
Steelers can’t afford to pay him what he’s seeking
Pittsburgh has been as loyal as any team when it comes to paying defensive lineman. Dating all the way back to the days of Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton, the Steelers have always made it a priority to retain their big guys who were the anchors of their defense.
However, times have changed in the NFL. Hargrave played just 63 percent of snaps for the Steelers in 2019, and Pittsburgh won’t be able to pay him the money he will no doubt be seeking. Hargrave is smart enough to know that there are teams out there with a whole lot more cap space than the Steelers.
Steelers have too much invested in their defensive line
Another reason the Steelers won’t be able to retain Javon Hargrave is because of the money they already have invested in their defensive line. Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward are the 2nd and 4th highest-paid players on the Steelers, respectively, and Pittsburgh already has one of the most expensive interior defensive line groupings in the league.
Adding Hargrave’s massive contract to the mix is something Pittsburgh can ill-afford to take on. With a healthy Tuitt returning next season, Hargrave would go back to a situational role anyway. Pittsburgh can’t pay top dollar for a player who historically has played less than 50 percent of defensive snaps in his career.
Steelers have other priorities
As I mentioned earlier, it’s clear that getting a deal done with Bud Dupree is more pressing than trying to extend Javon Hargrave. Anthony Chickillo will likely be a cut this offseason due to his unreasonably high cap number. This would leave the Steelers very short-handed at the edge defender position.
Unlike Hargrave’s situational role, Dupree was an every-down player who earned 980 snaps last season (91 percent). With just $1.4 million in cap space, Pittsburgh will cut players and restructure contracts to make sure Dupree stays. There won’t be enough to get Hargrave done too.
I like Javon Hargrave as much as anyone else. He’s a gritty defender who can help slow down the run and can still get after the quarterback, but I fear his time is in Pittsburgh is coming to an end. Hargrave was a successful pick and the Steeler’s should be able to get a compensatory pick for his departure next season.