NFL free agency officially kicks off on March 18. For the next few weeks up until then, we’ll be profiling some players on the market that the Ravens could potentially target - starting with Javon Hargrave of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Player: Javon Hargrave
Positon: Defensive tackle
2019 stats: 60 tackles, 14 pressures, four sacks, seven TFL, six QB hits
PFF grade: 83.4
Market value (Spotrac): $14.7 million annually
Ravens fans should be pretty familiar with Hargrave, as he’s played all four NFL seasons with the Steelers - starting in 52 of 63 total games since 2016. Over that span, he’s quietly developed into one of the more consistent, well-rounded defensive tackles in the league.
Now, Hargrave is hitting the free agent market for the very first time and the Steelers aren’t projected to have the cap space to retain his services. PFF ranked Hargrave as the No. 33 overall player in this year’s free agent class and actually predicted he’ll sign with the Ravens on a four-year deal worth $12 per year ($28 million guaranteed).
In their reasoning, PFF notes that Baltimore’s defensive line was one of the worst units in the NFL this past season in terms of pass-rushing production. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the likes of Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Domata Peko Sr. and Chris Wormley offered very little in terms of sacks, pressures or QB hits.
Pierce and Peko Sr. are free agents themselves and neither player seems especially likely to return to Baltimore next year, which only increases the need for the Ravens to beef up the interior of their front seven.
Hargrave was one of the better pass-rushing defensive tackles in the NFL in 2019, totaling 14 pressures, eight hurries, six QB hits and four sacks. It was far from a fluke showing, either, as these statistics were in-line with Hargrave’s production in previous seasons. In 2018, Hargrave had 6.5 sacks, ten pressures and eight QB hits. His 60 combined tackles (35 solo, 25 assisted) this past season represented career-best numbers.
Javon Hargrave came through the line like a bulldozer @Jay_MostWanted pic.twitter.com/LQBtadR9e5— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 9, 2019
Javon Hargrave is a wrecking ball. He is phenomenal. pic.twitter.com/Do4jfNddoM— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 3, 2019
Check out the hand usage, ability to turn the corner by Javon Hargrave on his second sack. Special ability for a nose tackle. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/o282XMkD5N— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) November 19, 2018
Fit with the Ravens:
Hargrave would be able to slide in seamlessly on the team’s defensive front and fill a variety of roles. Whether it be from the 3-tech or 5-tech spot, “Wink” Martindale could deploy Hargrave in different ways along the front-seven to maximize his skill set.
More prominently than his versatility, though, would be his acumen as a pass rusher, as mentioned earlier. The Ravens have lacked consistent interior pass-rushing for quite some time now and Hargrave’s ability to penetrate and supply pressure would be a welcome relief.
He certainly wouldn’t come cheap but if the Ravens are serious about addressing what may the biggest weakness on their roster, adding a player of Hargrave’s caliber would be a significant step towards rounding on their defense. They should almost certainly have the cap space and flexibility at their disposal to do so.