Former Eagles defensive end Javon Hargrave signed a four-year, $84 million contract with $40 million fully guaranteed. AthleticJeff Howe confirmed.
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How does he fit in?
Hargrave, 30, is considered the best defenseman on the free agent market. He is coming off a monster 2022 season that included 12 sacks and 66 total quarterback pressures, including the postseason. The 49ers’ most pronounced weakness in 2022 is their interior pass rush. Hargrave gives the 49ers a stellar interior pairing with edge rusher Nick Bosa, who last benefited from such a dynamic before trading away DeForest Buckner in 2019.
DT Hargrave agrees to terms with 49ers: Source
The 49ers can’t be sure what they’ll get from defensive end Javon Kinlaw, who has dealt with knee issues throughout his career heading into next season. Fellow tackle Kalia Davis is also an unknown commodity. That put a lot of pressure on versatile defenseman Aric Armstead, who spent most of last season injured.
Hargrave’s addition to the mix gives the 49ers a true pass-rush anchor inside; A force capable of breaking double teams and drawing blocking attention that frees up the rest of the defensive line. Despite Bosa’s 18 1/2 sacks last season, the 49ers finished with their worst overall pass-rushing numbers since 2018. They added Hargrave to fix that.
Pittsburgh selected Hargrave in the third round of the 2016 draft out of South Carolina State. He then signed a three-year, $39 million contract with Philadelphia in 2020. Over the past three seasons, Hargrave has emerged as a catalyst for the Eagles’ ferocious pass rush, which led the NFL in sacks in 2022. He had 22 sacks. In the last two seasons alone.
The 49ers only have $4 million in 2023 salary cap space to work with at this point, so they’ll have to creatively structure this deal with Hargrave — who’s worth $21 million a year.
The $40 million guaranteed at signing implies a large signing bonus (which will be assessed for cap purposes in the game) so expect the contract to be significantly backloaded. But even with some creative structure, the 49ers will need to restructure at least one contract to free up 2023 cap space. It’s something they’ll have to figure out at the start of the new league year when Hargrave’s contract expires and when teams must be cap compliant.
The 49ers already had the best roster in the NFL, and now the rich just got richer. At the NFL Scouting Combine last month, Lynch answered a question about signing a big-name defensive tackle. He said people under the age of 49 would prefer to make their own domestic options. But this action apparently speaks louder than any words. The 49ers have landed a big fish to address the biggest weakness of their defense, which was already ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season.
Hargrave will be a 49er, and the rest of the NFL has surely already noticed.
(Photo: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)