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Steelers Must Seek Adequate Replacement for the Versatile Javon Hargrave Next Season

February 4, 2020
5 minutes read
Steelers Must Seek Adequate Replacement for the Versatile Javon Hargrave Next Season

It looks set to be an interesting couple of months for Steelers fans as they await further news on the future on Javon Hargrave. Whilst the ever-popular Bud Dupree is likely to remain in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable, there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the 26-year old nose tackle. Although his versatility has come in been extremely handy this season, he looks likely to become yet another victim of the salary cap. With Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin rumored to be prioritizing offensive recruits this year and the Steelers only commanding five or six draft picks, Hargrave’s four year stint in Pennsylvania appears to be coming to an end.

Despite an impressive record of having committed a turnover in every game of the 2019 season, it’s been a fairly nondescript six months for the Steelers. The loss of Ben Roethlisberger proved to be an unwanted early setback, yet they still managed to scrabble around and find solutions to their early-season defensive crisis. With James Connor, Stephon Tuitt and JuJu Smith-Schuster also spending time on the treatment table this year, Hargrave’s ability to slot into unfamiliar positions and help plug the gaps proved invaluable. Despite the presence of Tyson Alualu, it was the Salisbury-born player who was chosen to slot in at defensive end.
Although it is virtually impossible to account for bad luck, the Steelers must ensure they don’t leave themselves short once again in 2020. Their ageing offense is likely to get a much-needed overhaul this spring and, therefore, the odds would seemingly be stacked against the franchise spending a significant portion of the cap on a single player.

Hargrave has improved season-upon-season since arriving from South Carolina in June 2016. He signed a four-year rookie contract with the Steelers following an impressive display in the East-West Shrine Game and is one of a number of former Bulldogs to have turned professional in the last decade. Darius Leonard is the latest player to have departed Orangeburg with a burgeoning reputation and plenty more are expected to follow in his footsteps. They ended the 2019 season strongly with an 8-3 record and are currently 501.00 in the American football odds for next season’s NCAAF Championship.

Whichever franchise picks the 26-year old next season, they will undoubtedly benefit from his experience, attitude and adaptability. He was rated by Pro Football Focus as having his best-ever season and the statistics are able to back up that claim. He managed a career-best 60 tackles (25 assisted) as well as 4.0 sacks and as a result, was ranked as the eighth-best interior defensive linemen in NFL. His numbers have noticeably increased once again in the last twelve months and he will leave a significant void in the Steelers’ roster. He is likely to be highly sought after, although his substantial salary could prove to be a stumbling block for many potential suitors. He would be an ideal pick-up for a team that plays a 4-3 defense and at just 26 years old, he still has plenty of mileage.

If the Steelers can keep the majority of their defense free from injury in 2020, the loss of Hargrave is likely to be of little concern. However, his versatility will be missed, and Pittsburgh could do with recruiting someone who can perform a very similar role next season.


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