49ers Earn Impressive Grade for Signing $84 Million Defender

San Francisco 49ers, Javon Hargrave

Getty New San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave wearing #93 for his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch’s biggest move in the early days of free agency — signing former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Javon Hargrave — impressed ESPN’s Seth Walder, who gave the signing a B+ grade.

“The 49ers’ defensive front is still stacked,” Walder wrote. “The Niners splashed out on a legitimate star in Hargrave to bolster a pass rush that already features reigning MVP Nick Bosa and tackle Arik Armstead. Hargrave is a difference-maker; his 11 sacks last season were a career-high, but it was backed up by a strong 17% pass rush win rate at defensive tackle — third-best in the league — which showed his impact on a play-to-play basis. And it wasn’t unique, as he ranked third in the metric in 2021 and sixth in 2020. The only downside to this deal is his age — he’s 30.”

The B+ grade is notably higher than the C he gave to the Atlanta Falcons for signing David Onyemata, the C he gave the Washington Commanders for re-signing Daron Payne, and the C he gave the Pittsburgh Steelers for re-signing Larry Ogunjobi.

Hargrave’s deal will pay him $84 million over four years with $40 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 49ers will have an out after the 2024 season, according to Spotrac, with $18.6 million dead cap money in 2025.

Seth Walder Explains What Makes Javon Hargrave Valuable

Why did Walder like Lynch’s decision to sign Hargrave but was less excited about the deals handed out to Payne, Onyemata and Ogunjobi? For the NFL analyst, it all came down to the contract’s value versus Hargrave’s “strong 17% pass rush win rate.”

“This is obviously a lot of money, but the deal is in line with or maybe a shade less than what we should expect in the market,” Walder wrote. “If we adjust for salary cap inflation, Hargrave’s deal is slightly pricier in terms of guarantees and [average per year] than Grady Jarrett’s deal with the Falcons last year but slightly less expensive than DeForest Buckner or Chris Jones’ deals in 2020 or Jonathan Allen’s contract in 2021, according to historical contracts from OverTheCap.

“That’s a group that makes sense for Hargrave to be in, and he’s a better player than Allen and Buckner were at the time of their deals. Hargrave is also getting less guaranteed money and at a lower average than Daron Payne, who signed a four-year, $90 million deal Sunday, despite being better (but older).”

If Hargrave can live up to the standard he established in Philadelphia over the full four years of his contract, the deal will look like one of the signature signings of Lynch’s tenure in San Francisco.

The San Francisco 49ers’ New DT Has a Decision to Make

The 30-year-old defensive tackle will have to decide on a new number for his red and gold uniform, as 97, the number he wore in college and during his final two years with the Eagles, currently belongs to Nick Bosa.

Theoretically, Hargrave could reach out to Khalil Davis to see if he would switch out of 93, as the South Carolina-educated third-round pick wore that number with the Eagles in 2020, but one number that also will be off-limits to Hargrave is 79, his initial NFL number, because it was retired by the team in 2001 to celebrate the career of offensive tackle Bob St. Clair.

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