Johnathan Hankins

AFC Notes: Jets, Johnson, Patriots, Michel, Cannon Raiders, Hankins

When Jets owner Woody Johnson accepted the role as ambassador to the U.K., he left the team under the leadership of his brother Christopher. Given the relative success and cultural improvements the organization has seen under Christopher’s watch, there’s been a lot of speculation about what will happen when Woody returns from his political appointment.

Christopher himself is being quite open about the fact that he wants to stay on with the Jets, saying “no question, I’m hoping to have a larger role” even after his brother returns according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). He added that he thinks Woody will be receptive to it, saying “I think he’d welcome that. I know that he would. I think that I have a new perspective at this point that would be valuable for the franchise.” Whatever happens, it’ll be interesting to watch it unfold as Christopher is reportedly well liked by the players.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • It looks like Sony Michel could be making his NFL debut this week. The first round pick of the Patriots missed most of the offseason and Week 1 due to a knee ailment, but has “made a lot of progress this week” and “the progress has been encouraging” for his Week 1 prospects according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Speaking of Patriots injuries, starting left tackle Marcus Cannon is looking unlikely to play and the team has “prepared LaAdrian Waddle this week to start” according to Howe (Twitter link). It’d be a big blow to the Patriots’ offensive line against Jacksonville’s dominant defensive front.
  • The details are in for the Raiders’ two recent defensive tackle signings. Johnathan Hankins will get $2MM for the season and Clinton McDonald will get $1.75MM according to Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). Pelissero notes that almost every other recent veteran signing has been for the veterans minimum.

Johnathan Hankins Signs With Raiders

It turns out this will be a two-defensive tackle-addition day for the Raiders. Shortly after Clinton McDonald became a Raider, Johnathan Hankins has agreed to do so as well.

Oakland will add Hankins on a one-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). This ends Hankins’ oddly lengthy stay in free agency.

The 26-year-old defensive tackle spent last season with the Colts and delivered a strong season. However, the rebuilding team cut him after only one season. He then remained a free agent for six months. Hankins has been a starter for four seasons and entered the 2017 free agency market as one of the top defenders available. He entered Wednesday as a top-tier UFA, despite remaining on the market in September.

The Raiders are dealing with injuries to Justin Ellis and P.J. Hall, the former looking set to miss games because of a foot injury. Hankins and McDonald will at worst add depth, with the former likely set to push for a starting job. The former Giants second-round pick started for Big Blue from 2014-16, and after a season in Indianapolis’ 3-4 defense, he’ll return to a role as a 4-3 defensive lineman.

Hankins toured the AFC extensively this offseason, meeting with the Jets, Browns and Chargers before trekking to Oakland on Wednesday. He said he’d been talking to teams about fits during the summer; it’s possible the Raiders were one of them, even though they weren’t mentioned as a suitor. The Gruden 2.0-era Silver and Black have signed numerous free agents, and this is one of the highest-profile gets.

DT Johnathan Hankins To Visit Raiders

Johnathan Hankins‘ longer than expected free agency could finally be drawing to a close. The veteran defensive tackle will visit the Raiders today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link).

Schefter notes that the team “want[s] to sign him”, so it sounds like there’s a good chance this happens. Hankins signed a three-year $27MM deal with the Colts before the 2017 season, and despite high Pro Football Focus grades, was let go this past March after just one year.

He was expected to be hotly pursued after his release, but much of a market never materialized. He went on a few visits, most recently with the Chargers, but never signed a deal. It’s possible that he’s been holding out for better offers and simply never received the type of money he was looking for, so it will be interesting to see what the terms of his deal are with the Raiders, assuming he signs in Oakland.

Hankins, who’s still only 26, came into the league as a second round pick of the Giants in 2013. He had seven sacks in 2014 but is mostly a run-stuffing defensive tackle. The Raiders’ defensive front was a major weakness in their Week 1 loss to the Rams, so it makes since why they’re looking to bring in Hankins.

Chargers Met With Johnathan Hankins

Although Johnathan Hankins is only 26 and has been an NFL starter for the past four seasons, he’s without a team less than two weeks before most franchises’ 2018 seasons begin. But he’s confident he’ll find a home soon, and another suitor emerged recently.

It’s not certain when this visit occurred, but it was revealed during an interview with Brady Quinn and A.J. Hawk on Sirius XM Radio Hankins met with the Chargers this offseason. The former Giants and Colts interior defender added he’s had discussions with teams and is trying to determine the best landing spot.

I believe I’ll be with a team pretty soon,” Hankins said during the interview. “I’ve just been really talking to teams and trying to figure out what would be the best fit. Just taking my time with things, and I feel like I’ll be with at team very soon, before the season gets started.”

The Colts released Hankins in mid-March. He since met with the Jets in April and worked out for the Browns earlier this month, but no deals materialized. The Chargers will play the first four games without Corey Liuget due to a suspension, and although they did add defensive tackle Justin Jones in the third round, Hankins would supply depth. He graded as a top-20 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus, last season and was productive with the Giants prior to initially hitting free agency.

It’s likely Hankins will have to settle for a one-year deal at a lower-than-expected rate, similar to the some of this year’s top free agent safeties who mysteriously languished unattached for months. But he remains one of the best available players heading into the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Work Out Johnathan Hankins

The Browns will work out defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins on Wednesday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. This marks Hankins’ first known meeting with a club since April. 

[RELATED: Free Agent Stock Watch: Johnathan Hankins]

Last year, Hankins was among the league’s most sought-after free agent defensive tackles. It’s not clear why his market has dragged this year, but it’s possible that his camp has been asking for significantly more money than what he has been offered thus far. After all, that’s what happened last year. In 2017, Hankins’ camp told teams that he was looking for $15MM per year. Soon after, the asking price was reduced to a more reasonable $10MM per season, and he eventually accepted a $9MM/year pact from the Colts.

Two of the Browns’ defensive tackles – Trevon Coley and Caleb Brantley – are dealing with ankle injuries, so Hankins could provide the club with a healthy alternative. If signed, Hankins would almost certainly start in the team’s 4-3 scheme. He played in a 3-4 setup with the Colts last year, but Hankins had only worked out of a 4-3 scheme prior to joining Indianapolis.

Hankins didn’t offer much against the pass in 2017, but he was exceptional against the run. In fact, only Damon Harrison and Ndamukong Suh ranked better against ball carriers, according to Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Johnathan Hankins

Last year, Johnathan Hankins was among the league’s most sought-after free agent defensive tackles. In July 2018, Hankins is without an NFL home. 

Hankins’ market dragged a bit last year due to his asking price, but he settled for less in April when he signed a three-year, $27MM deal with the Colts. In March of this year, the Colts surprised many by terminating his contract.

Hankins finished out the year as Pro Football Focus’ No. 20 ranked interior defender and the Colts had – and still have – an abundance of cap room. The Colts’ change from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 setup likely played a part in their decision, but Hankins had only worked out of a 4-3 scheme prior to joining Indianapolis. Hankins did not offer much against the pass in 2017, but he was exceptional against the run, which is the primary goal of any defensive tackle.

Since his release, Hankins has met with the Redskins and Jets, but did not sign with either club. So, what gives?

We haven’t heard much on Hankins in recent weeks, but it stands to reason that his asking price is keeping him from landing a deal. In 2017, Hankins’ camp told teams that he was looking for $15MM per year. Soon after, the asking price was reduced to a more reasonable $10MM per season, and he eventually accepted a $9MM/year pact from the Colts.

After turning in a solid season – nearly the best of his career, according to PFF – Hankins may be unwilling to take anything less than what he received from the Colts. It’s the only logical explanation for one of the league’s best run-stuffing DTs being left in limbo.

That position may seem foolish since many teams have already blown their wad in the first and second waves of free agency, but there are still plenty of dollars available, particularly when it comes to his potential suitors. The Jets, who might not want to bank on 32-year-old Steve McLendon in the middle, will still have about $14MM in cap room after they sign top draft pick Sam Darnold. The Packers, who might not have complete confidence in Kenny Clark taking the next step in 2018, have nearly $11MM in space after inking their entire draft class. The Cowboys, who will start the year without David Irving, have nearly $15MM to work with.

Between now and the start of the year, it’s entirely possible that a team could open up the checkbook to meet Hankins’ demands. In addition to the aforementioned clubs, there are still 16 teams with eight figures in cap room. Beggars can’t be choosers at this stage of the summer, but all it takes is one GM to cave.

Alternatively, Hankins may wind up taking his salary demands down a notch or two, which would greatly open up his possibilities. The Lions, for example, have just $9MM in space, but they may want to consider Hankins to beef up their line, even after signing Sylvester Williams in March.

If the market doesn’t meet his demands, Hankins may be willing to settle for a one-year platform contract in the $7MM range to reestablish his value. If quality defenders like Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Jadeveon Clowney, and Geno Atkins are taken off of the 2019 free agent list with extensions, Hankins could be on the path to riches next spring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

There are still plenty of impact free agents left on the board, including some big names. Here’s a look at some of the high-profile veterans that are still looking for work in advance of training camp: 

Kaepernick probably stands as the most talented quarterback left on the open market, but his ongoing collusion case against the NFL complicated matters. It seems unlikely that he’ll land anywhere between now and the start of the season, but friend and former teammate Eric Reid probably has a better chance of signing somewhere, despite being in a similar boat. Recently, the duo was spotted working out together in California.

It seems like just yesterday that Murray was the league’s most fearsome running back. Unfortunately, Murray’s age has caught up to him to some extent and he was overshadowed last year in Tennessee by the younger Derrick HenryThe Titans dropped Murray in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the LionsSeahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Recently, the Saints tried to include Murray in their cattle call for running backs, but he declined the invite.

Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. It’s possible that Murray and Peterson won’t sign unless a running back injury opens up an opportunity for them. Teams could also steer clear of Peterson altogether given his desire for a starring role despite his lack of star performance over the last two years.

Bryant is the biggest name on this list, but we shouldn’t expect to see him sign anywhere until July. There have been conflicting reports on his market, but the latest word indicates that he is receiving interest, despite concerns about his demeanor in the locker room.

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Jets Meet With DT Johnathan Hankins

Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is visiting with the Jets, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The former Giants second-rounder was cut by the Colts in March after one year with the team. 

The Colts dropped Hankins as they switched to a 4-3 scheme, but the Jets are intrigued by the possibility of plugging Hankins in as their starting defensive tackle. Currently, Steve McLendon stands as the team’s top nose tackle in their 3-4 set.

Hankins recently met with the Redskins, but the two sides are said to be in a holding pattern. Washington may be unwilling to meet Hankins’ asking price, but the cash-flush Jets could have the room to pull off a deal.

Hankins, who turned 26 on Sunday, was the third-best run stopping defensive tackle in the league last year, per Pro Football Focus. Only Damon Harrison and Ndamukong Suh ranked better against ball carriers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Redskins, Cowboys

Although the Giants are not actively shopping wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., team owner John Mara (once again) didn’t dismiss the idea of dealing the star pass-catcher. “Do I want [Beckham] to be traded? Absolutely not,” said Mara, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link). “I want him to be a Giant. I can’t promise that’s going to happen. We’re not looking to get rid of him, OK? I’d like him to be a Giant. But if you’re asking me for a 100% guarantee, nobody has that.” Beckham may reportedly consider a holdout if he’s not extended by the start of the 2018 season, but he’s clearly not in the good graces of New York’s decision-makers at the moment. Mara recently indicated he’s “tired of answering questions” about OBJ, who was involved in a video that may have involved drug use earlier this year.

Let’s take a look at more from the NFC East:

  • Free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is in a holding pattern with the Redskins after meeting with the club last week, as John Keim of ESPN.com writes. Asking price could be an issue, as Keim indicated Washington views Hankins as a potential complementary piece of its run defense rather than a key cog. As such, Hankins may not be in the Redskins’ plans unless his cost comes down. Fellow interior lineman Bennie Logan remains under consideration, but given that Washington has yet to schedule a visit, its interest clearly isn’t serious. If neither Hankins nor Logan end up in the nation’s capital, the Redskins should be expected to target defensive tackle help through the draft.
  • New Cowboys linebacker Joe Thomas‘ two-year deal is worth up to $3.6MM, tweets Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Thomas, who had spent his entire career in Green Bay, received a $1MM signing bonus and will also have $400K of his base salary guaranteed. The Packers opted to non-tender Thomas as a restricted free agent rather than pay him an original round tender of $1.907MM, and Thomas won’t meet that mark with Dallas, either, as Demovsky reports Thomas will collect just $1.6MM total in 2018. Thomas, 26, will likely spend most of his time on the Cowboys’ special teams unit, but will provide depth in case Sean Lee or Jaylon Smith go down with injury.
  • Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk has schedule a pre-draft visit with the Cowboys, according to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. Because he’s likely considered a local prospect, Kirk shouldn’t count against Dallas’ allotment of 30 prospect meetings. The Cowboys have already added Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson to a pass-catching corps that also includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and — for now — Dez Bryant, but Kirk could give the club another dimension on offense. Kirk averaged a 78/952/9 line during three seasons with the Aggies.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Lions, Vikings

Allen Robinson narrowed his potential destinations to the Bears and Packers before ultimately deciding on Chicago, as the star wideout tells Mike Kaye of First Coast News. While a number of clubs — including the Redskins, Browns, Ravens, Panthers, and incumbent Jaguars — were linked to Robinson before free agency officially opened, Green Bay was never mentioned as a suitor. The revelation is interesting on a few different levels, but chief among them is that the Packers clearly feel a need to upgrade their receiving corps. So far this offseason, Green Bay cut ties with franchise icon Jordy Nelson, but hasn’t made any additions to its wideout depth chart. Robinson, 24, eventually landed a three-year, $42MM deal from the Bears.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • The Lions‘ decision to release Eric Ebron was strictly a financial call, general manager Bob Quinn told reporters, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Ebron had been scheduled to earn a base salary of $8.25MM in 2018, and that figure would have become fully guaranteed on the first day of the league year. Indeed, Ebron’s high salary also warded off any potential trade suitors, per Quinn, while Detroit never discussed an extension that would have reduced Ebron’s upcoming cap charge (Twitter link via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News). Ebron, a first-round pick in 2014, has subsequently inked a two-year, $13MM pact with the Colts.
  • Given that he’s currently in Ghana, Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has no immediate plans to sign his franchise tag, per Birkett (Twitter link). However, Ansah does eventually plan to ink the tender and has no intention of dragging out the process. When he does eventually sign, Ansah will earn a fully guaranteed $17.143MM base salary for the 2018 campaign, and will have until July to hammer out a long-term extension with Detroit. Ansah finished the 2017 season with 12 sacks, 44 total tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
  • The Vikings have indicated they’d like to re-sign cornerback Terence Newman, but it sound as though money will be the determining factor in any such agreement, according to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). While Newman will be 40 years old when the 2018 season gets underway, he was able to stay healthy for all 16 games last year. Newman, who ranked as the No. 66 CB among 119 qualifiers in 2017 (per Pro Football Focus), would reinforce a Minnesota secondary that also includes Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander.
  • Despite a previous report to the contrary, the Lions are not interested in free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, tweets Birkett. Detroit has already upgraded its defensive tackle rotation by signing Sylvester Williams and Ricky Jean-Francois, but Hankins isn’t in the team’s plans.