The Los Angeles Rams can either find help for Aaron Donald on the defensive line on April 28 or pivot to free agency nearly one month from now on March 15 to get an early jump on adding help.
Getting some extra pass rush assistance next to Donald has been on the mind of Ram fans and analysts thinking about their pending offseason moves. Well, Heavy senior NFL reporter and insider Matt Lombardo leaked out this highly intriguing name — a name the Rams should place high on their free agent list from the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I’m told if Javon Hargrave reaches free agency, the expectation is the Eagles’ DT will garner ‘significant’ interest, per sources. Hargrave, 30, is coming off a career-high 11 sacks with 57 quarterback pressures,” Lombardo shared on Thursday, February 16.
Yes, that Hargrave. The one who put together his first Pro Bowl season in an Eagles uniform and ended up delivering his first-career double-digit sack season for the league’s leading sack unit. And the same Hargrave who is an unrestricted free agent for the 2023 cycle.
NFC Champs Anticipated to Have Hard Time Maintaining Hargrave
Hargrave will be a hard keep for the NFC champs. His base salary rose to $12,750,000 in 2022 per Spotrac and he’s at the end of his three-year, $39 million deal.
He’s also considered the best free agent defensive tackle for the upcoming free agency class — with NBC Sports ranking him at the top on January 30. FanDuel also has Hargrave at No. 1 among free agent defensive tackles.
And after coming off a career-best season in a contract year that included a Super Bowl run, it’s easy to see why “Gravedigger” is going to be a hot commodity free agent once the calendar year hits March 15. The Eagles are already facing critical offseason with talks of extending quarterback Jalen Hurts while also addressing the other free agents in the room from Fletcher Cox, to Brandon Graham and Ex-Rams Robert Quinn and Ndamukong Suh. Even Eagles legend Seth Joyner said on Thursday via the Gunn on One Podcast that Hargrave is “potentially” out the door in Philly.
That’s where the Rams can capitalize on nabbing Hargrave.
How Hargrave can fit Inside the ‘Rams House’
While the Rams operate with more of an odd man front under defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Hargrave was still on a defense that saw him draw a lot of one-on-one scenarios and was aligned in either the “A” or “B” gap to do his damage — which was on display in the Super Bowl on February 12:
Hargrave may not have gotten any sacks of Patrick Mahomes, but still tied for third with five tackles including four solo stops and was the only Eagles defender with a stop behind the line of scrimmage.
Outside of the Super Bowl, Hargrave gave guards fits with his snap quickness and hand moves. Another DL with both traits next to “A.D” is a match made in Rams heaven. As it is, the Rams are facing their own changes on the defensive interior with A’Shawn Robinson and Greg Gaines both unrestricted free agents for the ’23 cycle.
The Rams have made it a habit of nabbing one of the best free agents available for their position in the era of Les Snead and Sean McVay. Last season, Pro Bowler Allen Robinson latched on last season by signing his blockbuster deal and the team bolstered the linebacker group by signing perennial Pro Bowler and Super Bowl winner Bobby Wagner.
If Hargrave is expected to have “significant” interest from other NFL teams, the Rams should make themselves one of the interested to give Donald some much needed quickness and disruptive help across the line…while also maintaining their continuous run of snatching up prized free agents.