Report: Colts Sign Johnathan Hankins to 3-year, $30M Deal
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Indianapolis Colts have signed New York Giants defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins to a 3-year, $30 million deal with $14.5 million guaranteed:
The 6’2″, 320 pound defensive tackle is fresh off a season for the Giants in which he recorded 43 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and a forced fumble in all 16 starts.
Originally a 2013 2nd round pick of the Giants, the 5th-year veteran has 89 tackles, 10.0 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in 52 career games (41 starts).
However, Hankins is coming off a down season in 2016, as he was miscast from his natural position of nose tackle to a 3-technique defensive tackle because of the arrival of former teammate Damon Harrison as a free agent–who he was forced to accommodate positionally.
That being said, he figures to return to his old position of nose tackle in Indianapolis, and make no mistake about it, stopping the run will be Hankins ‘calling card’ with the Colts–shading the center:
In fact, entering the offseason, Hankins was Pro Football Focus’ ‘6th best interior defender‘ set to hit free agency:
"6. Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (47.1)Hankins played out of position with the Giants adding Damon Harrison last offseason and his production took an understandable drop. After seeing almost 37 percent of his snaps at nose tackle in 2015, Hankins lined up over the center just 15 percent of the time. At 320 pounds, Hankins was asking to penetrate from the 3T position far more often than previously and he doesn’t possess the athleticism to do so. That said, if used correctly, Hankins will be a productive player, defend the run well and be a solid bargain veteran free agent."
What Hankins has working in his favor with the Colts is his youth, as he’s still only 25 years old as well as the fact that he’ll presumably be returning to his natural position of nose tackle.
There’s no question that the Colts could clearly use a significant upgrade at nose tackle too, as incumbent starter David Parry has been nothing more than serviceable–at best.
The Colts unsuccessfully courted former Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe earlier this offseason and recently signed veteran Al Woods at the position, so they were clearly actively pursuing potential upgrades.
Since head coach Chuck Pagano’s arrival in 2012, the Colts have shuffled through the likes of Antonio Johnson, Aubrayo Franklin, Josh Chapman, and most recently, Parry at the 3-4 nose tackle position among others.
Historically, nearly every great 3-4 defense has had a dominant nose tackle whether it be the New England Patriots Vince Wilfork (or Ted Washington), the Pittsburgh Steelers Casey Hampton, the San Diego Chargers Jamal Williams, etc.
The hope is that Hankins will be more Anthony ‘Booger’ McFarland–who was acquired in an October of 2006 trade and helped anchor the Colts Super Bowl XLI winning run defense than free agent bust Corey Simon–who was signed to a lucrative deal in 2005 from Philadelphia and only lasted a little more than a season in Indianapolis after making an initial impact.
However, it’s truly been that long (since 2006) that the Colts have consistently had an impact player in the interior of their defense.
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Not only does Hankins potentially provide a difference-maker at nose tackle (finally), but he also should make the Colts inside linebackers better by default–freeing them up to make plays by consistently commanding a double team in the middle.
This is new general manager Chris Ballard‘s first real ‘big’ signing in my opinion–no pun intended, as his previous impact signings of Jabaal Sheard and John Simon appear to be rather low-risk, potential 1-year ‘prove it’ deals with little strings attached salary cap-wise.
We’ll have to wait and see for the actual contract structuring however.