For weeks now, New York Giants fans and team management have had a hope that Johnathan Hankins would come crawling back to them. As the days of free agency passed and Hankins remained available, the hope began to rise. The defensive tackle market was very unkind in general. No one was biting on Hankins’ requests. His agent misplayed his hand. There would be no alternative except to return to New York at the contract the team wanted.
That dream is over; hope is dead. On Thursday, Hankins announced that he is signing a three-year, $30 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts. Everything was working in the Giants’ favor until it wasn’t. Apparently Hankins was the one in control all along.
When the previous defensive tackle chips began to fall, talented guys were settling for one-year deals. The market didn’t seem like it was going to develop outside of the top men. At 25 years old and coming off of a good season, most assumed Hankins himself would fall into the top-men category. For all of April, he remained the best free agent available according to most lists. Despite that, no one was biting.
The Giants reportedly had a standing offer to his camp for four years and $28 million. That felt like a solid offer. Obviously New York thought so. The only folks who didn’t were the Hankins team. They wanted $10 million per season for the big man who is just entering his prime. At this late stage in free agency, where could they possibly get that type of contract though? It felt like just the latest misstep by Hankins and his agent. Misreading the market has been a key factor in why guys like Adrian Peterson and Colin Kaepernick remain jobless. Just add Hankins to the list.
Instead, Indianapolis was waiting in the weeds. Though it certainly wasn’t the final hour, the Colts jumped in with exactly the type of offer Hankins was waiting on. In the end, he played his cards right, and the Giants didn’t. Now, New York is left with a Hankins-sized hole at tackle.
There are a number of intriguing defensive line prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, New York already has a number of holes it hopes to fill in the draft. Adding another doesn’t help the cause. The Jets seem to be shopping Sheldon Richardson, who is another option up front, even though he has slid to linebacker for the Jets recently. Jay Bromley is likely slotted in as the Giants starter for now alongside Damon Harrison. That feels like a stopgap solution to a problem Hankins would have solved long-term. The Giants didn’t want to meet his demands because they were gambling that they wouldn’t have to. It ended up backfiring.