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What to make of the 49ers signing DT Javon Hargrave

Rohan Chakravarthi
Mar 13, 2023 at 12:00 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers made a splash move on the first day of the legal tampering period,
signing Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave on a four-year, $84 million deal that includes $40 million guaranteed.

Hargrave, 30, had become the top defensive tackle on the market after the Washington Commanders franchise-tagged Daron Payne and extended him to a four-year, $90 million deal, and now gets handsomely paid by the 49ers, who will pair their marquee free agent with fellow interior lineman Arik Armstead.

Hargrave has been an underrated contributor for the Eagles for years before earning his praises with an 11-sack, 66-pressure season in 2022 alongside a loaded defensive line en route to free agency.

What does this move mean for the 49ers, both in the short and long-term?



Contract


Javon Hargrave broke the bank with a four-year, $84 million deal.

But, what does that really mean for the 49ers?

Despite the large salary cap number, Hargrave's deal likely doesn't involve a high cap hit in Year 1, which allows for flexibility in the short-term as the 49ers attempt to capitalize on their current championship window.

Hargrave's deal includes $40 million in guaranteed money, which likely involves two years of guaranteed salary and his signing bonus, locking the defensive tackle with the 49ers for at least the next two seasons.

The complex situation evolves in Year 2 of Hargrave's contract, where the newly-signed defensive tackle will likely see an increase in cap hit toward his average annual value number, while the 49ers will be shelling out significant money to both Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa as well.

While the cap should only continue to increase, how will the 49ers maneuver that cap situation, specifically around Armstead's contract?

Arik Armstead


The 49ers did this deal to pair Hargrave with Armstead in the short-term, arguably providing San Francisco with the best defensive tackle combination in the NFL, which should only further their pursuit of a Super Bowl in 2023.

However, the 49ers have a tough situation to deal with in the 2024 offseason, as Hargrave will likely see a cap hit increase, while Armstead is scheduled to hold a $25.9 million cap hit and Nick Bosa should be in line for a potentially significant cap hit as well.

With Armstead, the 49ers would have two realistic options: move on or extend their longtime defensive lineman.

Moving on from Armstead would save the 49ers nearly $11 million in cap space, while recouping some value in a trade, providing San Francisco with additional money that they'll likely need to remain cap-compliant.

But, the 49ers could go the opposite route and extend Armstead to a cheaper salary, moving some of his 2024 cap hit over the entirety of his new deal.

While it would make the last few years of Armstead's deal a hefty price for an aging player, it could the best move to salvage the 49ers' current championship window.

But, in regards to Hargrave, the most important factor of this deal is that the 49ers are gaining a true three-down player, which was the key to their success in 2019 when they boasted a defensive line of Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, and Armstead.

While several rotational pieces certainly made nice contributions in 2022, they weren't to the level of an elite defensive line, which the 49ers should be once again with Hargrave at the helm of their interior.

Was it an overpay? Likely in terms of average annual value, but the 49ers usually construct their free agency deals well, and it allows San Francisco to compete for a championship in 2023 and capitalize on their current window under quarterbacks on rookie contracts.

Bold, bold move.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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