Colts Release Johnathan Hankins

A year after signing Johnathan Hankins to a three-year, $27MM deal, the Colts are releasing the defensive lineman, Field Yates of tweets.

Hankins received a $7MM roster bonus and no signing bonus, with all of the defender’s guarantees coming in the contract’s first year. The Colts will not be tagged with any dead-money charges because of this surprising cut.

The timing of this release is notable. The 26-year-old lineman would have seen $4.5MM his $8MM 2018 salary become fully guaranteed on Sunday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. The Colts did this despite possessing more than $65MM in cap space — second-most in the league.

Hankins signed with the Colts shortly after free agency began last year, doing so after being a Giants starter for three years. He functioned in that role last season as well, starting 15 games.

This move also comes as the Colts are preparing to transition to a 4-3 defense, and prior to last season, Hankins had only worked in a 4-3 scheme. He played in the Colts’ 3-4 setup last season and graded out quite well, being tabbed as the No. 20 interior defender by Pro Football Focus. And the advanced metrics site only graded two full-time interior defenders — former Giants running mate Damon Harrison and now-UFA Ndamukong Suh — as being better against the run last season, doing so for an Indianapolis defense that ranked 30th.

He will become one of the more recognizable talents on the market and would almost certainly be expected to be a coveted commodity by other defensive tackle-needy franchises.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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