Reader Mailbag: What’s Going on with DT Johnathan Hankins?

Brian V asks: Why is DT Johnathan Hankins still unsigned?

We try to clear up what’s happening as well as dispel a common myth many fans seem to believe.

From Brian V.

Very surprised that DT Hankins is still un-signed. Any chance the Giants clear some cap space and re-sign him? We have a bad habit of letting young and solid DT’s walk?

Brian, if you had asked me at the start of free agency if I thought Hankins would still be on the market as of this writing, I would have said no.

However, during my time at the combine, several people told me Hankins was looking for a big pay-day that might turn some teams off.

Now given how he played last year—he switched to the 3-technique spot and posted modest numbers—combined with that reported APY (average per year) target and the fact that the defensive tackle position is loaded, particularly with nose tackles (Hankins’ better position), it all makes sense as to why he’s not yet signed.

What I could see happening is he returns to the Giants on a short-term deal—two or three years at the most, with the final year or two being a voidable option. This gives Hankins a chance to boost up his stats a bit and puts him right back into the market sooner than later, with an eye on potentially entering the market when the draft class isn’t as rich at defensive tackle.

Last point I want to make is about your last statement about the “bad habit of letting young and solid DTs walk.” If you study the breakdown of how the Giants use their DTs, they pull one off the field in pass rushing situations in favor of a defensive end who moves inside to defensive tackle.

Hence the guys they’ve “let walk” have usually been two-down guys. And if you’re going to pay big bucks for a player, it’s better to spend on someone who’s not coming off the field than a two-down player.

Finally, for every defensive tackle the Giants have let walk, they’ve usually replaced him with a younger and just as good if not better prospect. Now some might argue, “Well what about Linval Joseph?”

Well, a quick glance at his play time percentages shows he has yet to play more than 70 percent of the defensive snaps for any team and, by my count, is averaging around 60 percent of the snaps played.

The same thing can be said of Hankins, who has yet to crack the 70 percent snap count mark in his career. So, is it worth it, especially when you have limited cap funds, to spend big on a defensive tackle that doesn’t see the field at least three-quarters of the time?

There are exceptions—Damon Harrison being one, but then again, Harrison is clearly one of if not the best run stuffers in the league.

So absent having a top-10 skill set or a rare talent blend like Aaron Donald of the Rams, again I ask you if spending big bucks on such a player is really the way to go?

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