Who should the Eagles tag between Javon Hargave and C.J. Gardner-Johnson?

Eagles chauncey Gardner-johnson
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson (23) is carted off the field after an injury during the first half of the National Football League game between the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles on November 27, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The deadline to franchise tag players is on Tuesday and there are plenty of teams like the Eagles that have decisions to make about current stars on their roster.

For the Philadelphia Eagles, their decision of using the franchise tag falls on two pro-bowl players: Javon Hargrave and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

Philadelphia can only tag one of the two and will need to make that decision as soon as possible with free agency right around the corner. Both Hargrave and CJGJ had tremendous seasons in Philly but could very well be looking for new homes by the end of the month.

So let’s see who needs to stay in Philly more: the defensive tackle, or the talkative safety.

The case for Hargrave

Philly has always been a team that values its interior defensive line. Javon Hargrave‘s 2022 season was as dominant as the team has ever had though. The former Steeler totaled a career-high in sacks (11.0) and tackles (37) and was part of a unit that set a franchise record for sacks in a single season.

Add in the fact that Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham could both be on their way out, and the need for experienced defensive linemen is a major concern going into this off-season for the Eagles. Hargrave is looking to command north of $20 million a year on a new deal and the team isn’t going to give him that money while still negotiating with Jalen Hurts.

Tagging him makes a lot of sense and diminishes a major need going into free agency.

The case for Gardner-Johnson

There have been few newcomers that have acquitted themselves as well to the city of Philadelphia as Chauncey Gardner-Johnson did this past year. CJGJ led the league in interceptions last season while helping lead the Eagles’ defense into being the best against the pass all season. He brought a swagger that was desperately needed in the secondary and has taken to the safety position well since being traded from New Orleans.

Philadelphia’s secondary could look extremely different in 2023. Not only is CJGJ a free agent, but James Bradberry and Marcus Epps are as well. Tagging CJGJ makes a lot of sense because it minimizes the weakness the secondary could be next season, while also allowing the team to keep a swagger to them on the defensive side of the football.

The tag for a safety would leave his contract at around $13 million a year and it would give the team more time to negotiate a long-term deal.

The Verdict: CJGJ’s absence would open a larger hole than Hargrave

Both Javon Hargrave and CJGJ are incredibly important to the Eagles and only one can get the tag. That being said, with the Eagles enamored with several top defensive line prospects, and already having Milton Williams and Jordan Davis on the roster, Hargraves absence could mean less than Gardner-Johnson’s.

CJGJ’s backup is currently K’Von Wallace and there isn’t a corner/safety in the draft that is expected to match the work the former Saint took on in 2022.

The hole CJGJ would leave for the defense both as a player, and as a trash-talker, would be far greater than Javon Hargrave’s, especially with this current class of rookies expected to impress along the defensive line.

It’s a big decision the Eagles have to make, and one that could change the course of the team’s history, but it makes more sense to keep a 25-year-old safety over a 30-year-old pass rusher.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire