Two weeks ago, free agency started in the NFL and tons of players went off the board. Yet, there is at least one particularly big name still on the open market: Johnathan Hankins.
Hankins has established himself as one of the better defensive tackles in the league. Especially at stopping the run. However, he remains on the market. His current team, the New York Giants, remain strongly interested in re-signing him. The Giants view Hankins as the final piece to their defensive puzzle.
That defense ranked in the top 10 back in the 2016 season. They were a big reason why the Giants went 11-5 and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season. When the offense struggled to put up points, the Giants defense was the anchor. They did this all season long and were the reason the Giants went 9-2 in the last 11 games.
Over the last few days, the Giants have taken steps to get key players back from that defense; Jason Pierre-Paul re-signed to a four-year, $62 million deal, a deal he agreed to two weeks after he had the franchise tag placed upon him for the second time in his career. The Giants also re-signed middle linebacker Keenan Robinson as well. Consequently, that leaves Johnathan Hankins as the only other starter from that defense who remains a free agent.
Hankins has watched other defensive tackles sign elsewhere. Brandon Williams re-signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Dontari Poe signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Nick Fairley went to the New Orleans Saints. Benny Logan went to the Kansas City Chiefs. Some of them got solid money, meanwhile, Hankins has gone unsigned.
Reports have said that he was demanding around $10 million per season, a number that no team has been willing to come close to matching. Many teams still have interest. The Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Miami Dolphins have all checked in multiple times. Presently, none seem willing to meet Johnathan Hankins demands.
The Giants also have interest, and also have had a standing offer out on Hankins, which some think is a one-year deal in the $4-5 million range. It’d be an offer that Johnathan Hankins surely doesn’t want to take considering he wants what some of the top defensive tackles are looking for. But Hankins may be running out of options.
Hankins obviously will play in the league next year. Meanwhile, he also wants to get paid. So his best bet may be to re-sign with the Giants and take their offer.
Sure, it’s not going to be the offer he wanted in the first place.
But if he’s going to take a one-year offer from a team, it may as well be from the Giants, as he’ll still be part of a defense that ranks near the top of the NFL and could be a championship contender in the 2017 season, whereas going to the Eagles or Jaguars, he might still be a starter, but not on a defense quite like the Giants one.
In the middle of that defense and on a defensive line that features JPP, Olivier Vernon, and Damon Harrison, Hankins is the anchor of it. While he’s not the big name that JPP is, he’s just as important.
Hankins can re-sign and then re-enter free agency next season with the hopes of striking it big in free agency. Just think, if the Giants make another championship run, players from a defense like that tend to be worth even more on the open market.
As much as he might not want to, Johnathan Hankins best option for next season is to return to the Giants, at least for one more season.