As we head towards the second full week of NFL free agency, arguably the biggest name still on the market is New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. A number of factors have played toward his availability lasting this long. For one, the tackle market has been unforgiving. Two, Hankins seems to be overvaluing his own worth.
There were a number of legitimately elite defensive tackles available this offseason. With the exception of Brandon Williams re-signing with the Baltimore Ravens, none of them seemed to garner much interest around the NFL. Dontari Poe could muster nothing more than a one-year deal for $8 million. Bennie Logan found the same thing. These guys are relatively young and talented, but couldn’t generate interest. In a league that increasingly favors pass rushing, big men who clog the middle are worth less and less.
Hankins still has room to grow, but he safely falls into the Poe and Logan group. He is a very good tackle who lacks rush skills on par with the best players at the position. It is odd, though, to see this market collapse. Just one year ago, the Giants signed Damon Harrison to his huge deal. Harrison is the best run defender at his position in the league, but the guys this year aren’t too far behind when at their peak. One year makes all the difference in how free agency proceeds.
The other thing playing against Hankins is his own opinion of himself. According to reports, Hankins is after a multi-year deal worth, at a minimum, $8 million per season. The contract the Hankins camp has been throwing around is a four-year, $40 million deal with $20 million guaranteed. That would securely put him just a notch below Williams this offseason but above everybody else, including players with better and longer track records.
What Hankins has going in his favor is, while someone like Poe has declined from his heights, Hankins is incredibly young and coming off of a good year. Apparently, though, that isn’t enough for teams right now. They are throwing him in the same boat. No one wants to dole out multi-year deals for tackles, even if they are more than one-dimensional players. Baltimore was the lone exception. It remains to be seen if Hankins will find a second; things look doubtful now. This lull in the tackle market plays to the Giants’ favor. They still don’t have the cap room to nab Hankins for even a one-year, $8 million contract though. His value would have to drop even more, which hardly seems plausible.