Javon Hargrave

Steelers Unlikely To Sign Javon Hargrave To Extension

With Joe Haden‘s new deal in the books, the next man up would appear to be defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. However, a deal appears unlikely to come together before the start of the season and Hargrave is prepared to play out the final year of his contract before reaching free agency, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

This jibes with what we heard back in August – the Steelers are short on cap room and aren’t ready to meet the asking price of Hargraves, who is deployed largely a run-stuffer. Like most interior lineman specializing in stopping the ground game, he’s not quite a full-time player, though he has also been effective against the pass, as demonstrated by his 6.5 sacks last year.

It’s not hard to imagine the 26-year-old cashing in next March, just after his 27th birthday. If he sees more snaps this year and frustrated opposing quarterbacks even more, he could easily price himself out of Pittsburgh.

Steelers Won’t Extend Dupree, Davis, Hargrave Before Season

While the Steelers are working on a new contract for cornerback Joe Haden, the club doesn’t plan to negotiate extensions for edge rusher Bud Dupree, safety Sean Davis, or defensive tackle Javon Hargrave before the start of the regular season, according to Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. All three defenders will become free agents at season’s end, but Pittsburgh isn’t planning to discuss new deals until the offseason.

The Steelers may have a myriad of reasons not to extend Dupree, Davis, and/or Hargrave, but financial concerns are almost certainly at play. Pittsburgh currently has the fourth-least amount of cap space (~$5.213MM) in the NFL, per Over the Cap, and the club’s outlook isn’t much better next year. In 2020, the Steelers project to have just $7.7MM in available funds, seventh-least in the league.

Dupree, a first-round pick in the 2015 draft, will earn more than $9MM in 2019 while playing under his fifth-year option. An athletic testing marvel coming out of Kentucky, Dupree has mostly failed to put those traits to use in the NFL. He’s posted only 20 sacks through four seasons, and last year ranked 45th among 58 qualifying edge rushers in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rush productivity, which measures pressure created on a per-snap basis with an emphasis on sacks.

After spending most of his first two pro seasons closer to the line of scrimmage, Davis moved to free safety full-time in 2018, spending 779 of his 1,104 defensive snaps playing center field. The change was for the best, as Davis fared much better playing deep than he had in the box. He’s since hired super-agent Drew Rosenhaus, and noted the safety market’s recent explosion could have a commensurate effect on his next contract.

Like most run-clogging interior defenders in today’s NFL, Hargrave isn’t quite a full-time player. In each of his three seasons with the Steelers, he’s played between 43% and 50% of the club’s defensive snaps. Hargrave, who’s missed only one game in his career, could be a candidate for more passing down work in 2019 after posting 6.5 sacks and earning PFF’s 16th-highest pass-rush grade among defensive tackles last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Steelers, McSorley, Lions

The Steelers have a few players they need to take care of. Cornerback Joe Haden is looking for an extension, and all indications are that he’s going to get it. Javon Hargrave‘s situation has flown a bit more under the radar, but he’s also heading into the final year of his deal. The Steelers drafted the defensive tackle in the third round in 2016, and he’s started at least 12 games for Pittsburgh every year since. Hargrave has been keeping quiet about his contract, but Mark Kaboly of The Athletic thinks Hargrave will get an extension from the Steelers before the start of the season.

The Steelers restructured Stephon Tuitt‘s contract late last month to free up some cap space, and Kaboly thinks they’ll use some of it here. He also writes that “Haden’s extension could very well add money to the cap so money shouldn’t be an issue.” He also notes that Haden, Hargrave, and safety Sean Davis all have a self-imposed deadline of Week 1 for a new contract to get done by. Kaboly writes that it seems like Davis “is the odd man out” in that trio, indicating he might be playing out his walk year without a new deal. Davis recently signed with superagent Drew Rosenhaus, and said at the time he was looking to land top safety money next offseason.

Here’s more from the league’s North divisions:

  • Ravens rookie quarterback Trace McSorley is doing everything he can to make the team, and it seems to be working. Baltimore indicated as soon as they drafted him in the sixth round out of Penn State that they planned to use him on special teams and perhaps as a returner, in a similar role as Taysom Hill with the Saints. McSorley “has shown Ravens enough to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster,” even after Robert Griffin III returns from his injury, writes Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Hensley points out that McSorley will give the Ravens necessary depth “in an offense where QBs will take hits running the ball.”
  • The Lions gave offensive lineman Joe Dahl an extension last week, and now we have the full details. His two-year extension will be worth $3.6MM in new money, with a signing bonus of $750K, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. The signing bonus appears to be the only fully guaranteed money, although his $1.1MM salary for 2020 becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the new league year. Rothstein also has the breakdown on the various roster and workout bonuses he’ll receive assuming he makes it through the duration of the contract. The Lions drafted Dahl in the fifth round back in 2016 and he’s served as a reserve guard ever since, starting four games over the past two years.
  • In case you missed it, it looks like Ravens slot corner Tavon Young will miss the entire 2019 season after suffering a “serious” neck injury in practice.

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Steelers Sign DT Javon Hargrave

The Steelers announced that they have signed third-round defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. Now that Hargrave is inked, the Steelers have successfully signed every player in their 2016 draft class. Javon Hargrave (vertical)

Hargrave, a product of FCS program South Carolina State, offers major strength with his 6’1″, 309 pound frame. While Hargrave did not face the best of the best in college, his dominating performances and strong showing at the combine ensured that he would be a third or fourth-round draft pick. In 2014, Hargrave tallied 16 sacks and followed it up with 13.5 sacks last year.

The Steelers’ draft class was headlined by first-round cornerback Artie Burns who signed earlier this week. When his name was called in April, the former University of Miami standout became the first corner selected by Pittsburgh in the first round since Chad Scott in 1997.

Here’s the complete rundown of the Steelers’ 2016 class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Tunsil, Carroo, Ravens, Steelers

The Dolphins slotted Laremy Tunsil as their No. 2-rated player before the draft, with Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey at No. 1, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports. Had Tunsil not fallen to them at No. 13, the Dolphins would have been inclined to trade back and seek cornerback help, Salguero writes.

Among corners, the Dolphins had Eli Apple rated No. 2 behind Ramsey. Although Miami traded for Byron Maxwell, the team is now without all three of its primary starters from 2015 — Brent Grimes, Brice McCain and Jamar Taylor, the latter being traded to the Browns for a seventh-round pick Saturday.

Here’s more from the AFC as we transition into a post-draft world, beginning with more on the Dolphins’ board.

  • Miami traded up in the third round to take Rutgers wideout Leonte Carroo, but it’s not where the ex-Scarlet Knights target came off the board that’s interesting; it’s where his new team rated him. “We thought he was the second-best receiver in the draft,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said, via Salguero. That assessment runs counter to just about every pre-draft analysis in a draft that saw four wideouts go in the first round and three come off the board in Round 2. Prior to Miami selecting Carroo at No. 86, the Texans took Braxton Miller at No. 85. The Dolphins surrendered a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft — which it traded to the Vikings to select another receiver, Jakeem Grant — as well as third- and fourth-round choices in 2017 to become the ninth team to select a receiver this year. Rutgers suspended Carroo twice in 2015, and he was arrested once on a domestic violence-related charge.
  • Tunsil’s selection strikes Salguero as interesting considering as the No. 2 player on the Dolphins’ board, they couldn’t have done the exhaustive work on him as they did on someone like Apple or another player they thought would be in play at 13. He uses the Patriots, who did not pick until the 60s, not doing much work on Ramsey as an example.
  • Although Ozzie Newsome denied the Ravens picked Ronnie Stanley over Tunsil because of the now-infamous bong video posted on the tackle’s Twitter account before the draft, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun reports that the social media posting was passed around the Ravens draft room prior to the team selecting Stanley. The Ray Rice moment still hangs over the franchise, Schmuck writes, inducing Baltimore to play it safe when it comes to questionable prospects.
  • The past two years, the Steelers have chosen 11 defensive players compared to just four on offense, and Mike Tomlin told media (including Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) it’s realistic three could emerge as starters in Week 1. “I believe it’s realistic,” Tomlin said of the prospect of the team’s top three picks — cornerback Artie Burns, safety Sean Davis and nose tackle Javon Hargrave — starting against Washington in September. “That’s why we chose them where we chose them. But they have to earn it, and we’ll give them the opportunity to do that.” Following the departures of Steve McLendon and Brandon Boykin, the team has holes in its lineup at No. 2 corner and at defensive tackle.

AFC Notes: Taylor, Bolts, Browns, Jags, Steelers

Agent Adisa Bakari, frustrated that the Bills haven’t extended one of his clients – quarterback Tyrod Taylor – propped up the signal-caller Thursday and took shots at other facets of the club (Twitter link). Bakari told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Bills missed the playoffs last season because of a poor showing by their defense and a lack of discipline, not Taylor – whose performance Bakari referred to as “exceptional.” Bakari isn’t wrong – the Bills had a below-average defense and led the league in penalties in 2015, and Taylor was terrific statistically during his 14-game debut as a starter – but Buffalo doesn’t seem convinced he’s its long-term solution. Taylor is entering a contract year and the Bills have explored several QB prospects as the draft nears, so his chances of staying in their uniform for the long haul don’t look great at the moment.

More from the AFC…

  • The Chargers, who are set to pick third in the draft, are showing strong interest in Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was among the team’s representatives at Lynch’s pro day earlier this week, and the 6-foot-7 passer will visit the Bolts on Saturday, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (on Twitter).
  • The Browns are streamlining their personnel department under the team’s new decision-makers, and have parted ways with six scouts whose contracts were set to expire, league sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While the move itself isn’t unusual, especially after a front office shakeup, the timing – less than three weeks before the draft, rather than after it – is interesting.
  • The Jaguars announced today in a press release that veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis, who confirmed his retirement earlier this offseason, will sign a one-day contract next Wednesday to officially retire as a Jaguar. There has been no indication that the Lions have removed Mathis from their reserve/retired list yet, so they’ll have to formally cut him loose before he can sign his ceremonial deal with Jacksonville.
  • The Steelers visited with four defensive prospects Friday, hosting Javon Hargrave (DL, South Carolina State), Quinton Jefferson (DL, Maryland), Dean Lowry (DL, Northwestern) and Trae Elston (DB, Ole Miss), according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter).
  • Two draft hopefuls from Boise State – receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes and defensive lineman Armond Nance – will attend the Texans’ pro day on Saturday, their respective agents told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.