Some of you have been looking for answers for about a week now. Why did Eagles GM Howie Roseman sign another defensive tackle when there were so many other needs?
Here’s something that no Philadelphia Eagles fan or any fan of any other NFL team will ever say. “Our team has gotten worse because we signed Javon Hargrave“. If you’ve heard any concern from “Birds” fans about Howie Roseman‘s decision to sign the veteran nose tackle who will convert to the defensive tackle in Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 scheme, then rest assured that ability isn’t the concern at all. You can best believe no one questions Hargrave’s ability. Everyone knows what he’s capable of doing on a football field.
The only issue any Eagles fan had with Roseman’s decision was this. Why on Planet Earth would the Eagles vice president and general manager add another defensive tackle when Philly had so many other pressing needs? On top of that, why is this team spending $13 million per season on the said defensive end?
Heading into the 2020 offseason, Philly’s biggest areas of need appeared to be at the wide receiver and cornerback positions. Then, there were questions about what to do at safety, whether or not the Eagles would add a pass rusher or two, and why this team seems to hate linebackers.
If we all knew that, there’s no way to argue that the Eagles organization didn’t. That’s why even though there isn’t a football fan alive that doesn’t know Javon Hargrave is a beast, it was still a headscratcher when Roseman signed him to a three-year deal that would pay him $39 million. That’s especially true when Philadelphia already had Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson in the fold for the 2020 regular season.
Not only that, but Philly had also just signed Hassan Ridgeway to a one-year extension just hours earlier. Bruce Hector, Albert Huggins, and Anthony Rush are also in the fold and listed on the roster at the defensive tackle position. To satisfy their other needs, Philly would add safety Will Parks, linebacker Jatavis Brown, and two cornerbacks, Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Rodney McLeod was also retained as was Jalen Mills. They’re expected to be the starting safeties. Perhaps the plan is to satisfy the wide receiver position in the draft. If none of that satisfies you, and you’re still pondering why Philly added an interior defensive lineman when it appears that they’re loaded at the position, you’re in luck. Roseman shed a little light on the topic during the last full week of our great country’s third month.
Here’s a quote that was taken from a recent interview done by Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro.
That’s our priority. It’s always going to be starting up front on both sides of the ball… When you talk about the quarterbacks in this league, they are so talented. They are so good. The only way to disrupt them is to get pressure, and when you get pressure up the middle (especially) with the defensive line that we think we have right now… Obviously we signed Ridgeway (and) Malik Jackson is guy that we have huge expectations for. He was a key to our offseason last year. He got hurt for the first time in eight years last year, and obviously (you also have to consider) the kind of player that “Fletch” is. It’s hard for quarterbacks, when they get edge pressure, to step up when you have that interior defensive line that we have. We combine that with the edge guys… That’s where we’re going to start building the base of our team.
It’s a simple theory, but it makes sense. Build the team from the inside out. With that being said, let’s assess “value” from the perspective of the Eagles’ brass. It appears the highest value is placed on the interior guys. Then, edge guys come second. The secondary, though important, is then built based on what Philly has in the trenches. There shouldn’t be any complaints there. That’s typically how great franchises construct winners, but with that being said, we can probably also venture to say this without a ton of skepticism.
The Eagles may not have given up on Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Joe Ostman, Shareef Miller, and Genard Avery like some of the rest of you have. We’ll have to see what transpires come draft day, but it seems as though this proud franchise is banking on two or three of these guys taking a huge leap in 2020.