Year in Review: Hall, Hankins, Harris, Harrison, Hart and Herzlich

Reviewing Leon Hall, Johnathan Hankins, Dwayne Harris, Damon Harrison, Bobby Hart and Mark Herzlich.

LEON HALL, CB/S

2016 Season in Review

It was a weird season for veteran Leon Hall. You might recall that the Giants initially pursued Hall in the spring, but because he was recovering from offseason back surgery.

Ultimately the Giants got their man, but Hall still looked like he was trying to round himself back into shape when he signed with the team midway through training camp to fill the slot cornerback role.

Hall’s struggles spilled over into the regular season where he was given an unusually heavy workload where he averaged 40.2 snaps per game. Eventually, the Giants decided to primarily use Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the slot, as Hall struggled to record just one pass breakup and no interceptions in his first seven games with the Giants.

After a four-week hiatus in which he was a healthy scratch, Hall’s workload was modified, his snaps averaging 20.4 per game, and he performed much better. Hall rotated in and out at safety and cornerback, recording another pass defensed, a forced fumble and an interception in his final five games of the season.

Contract Status

(via Spotrac)

Hall is set to be an unrestricted free agent.

2017 Outlook

The Giants will more than likely move on from the 31-year-old Hall, seeking to replace him with younger depth.

JOHNATHAN HANKINS, DT

2016 Season in Review

Back from a season-ending pectoral injury suffered the year before, Hankins bounced back and was a key contributor to a strong defensive line.

His three sacks didn’t quite match the seven he produced two years ago, but he still brought power, discipline and athleticism to the interior of the defense. By season’s end, he was producing some big-time plays in short yardage, finishing the regular season with eight tackles of a loss, second behind Olivier Vernon’s 17.

Contract Status

(via Spotrac)

Hankins will be an unrestricted free agent.

2017 Outlook

The Giants won’t have anything near the $60 million they had last offseason to spend in free agency, which might make it hard for them to re-sign both Hankins and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul AND add a much-needed veteran offensive tackle.

Hankins has expressed a desire to return to the giants, but it would not be a surprise if he’s looking to land money that’s on par with what Damon Harrison got.

Unfortunately for Hankins, he’s probably not going to see that kind of pay-day, which is a shame because for years ow the Giants have been letting up-and-coming defensive tackles walk away just as they’re hitting their primes (see Linval Joseph). It would be surprising if that tradition ends.

DWAYNE HARRIS, KR/PR

2016 Season in Review

Look up the words tough, gritty and iron man, and chances are you might see a picture of Dwayne Harris as part of the definition. By season’s end, Harris had just about every conceivable injury you could think of—a wrist, a knee and an ankle just to name a few—and yet this man of steel never gave in to his ailments.

Of course it does need to be said that the ailments, particularly those to the lower body, robbed Harris of his burst, which is probably why his season-ending 5.4 yards per punt return was the second lowest average of his career.

Injuries aside, Harris didn’t help matters with some of his decisions out there which resulted in yards being left on the field. It got to the point where when the Giants became desperate, they turned to Odell Beckham Jr., which is not exactly the role you want to see your top (and sadly, at least I the case of 2016) only real receiving threat.

Harris did perform well as a gunner, and that had a lot to do with him earning his first career Pro Bowl berth.

Contract Status

(via Spotrac)

Harris is entering the third year of his Giants contract, a year in which he’ll count for $3.8 million against the cap. His contract’s guaranteed money has been paid out, so if the Giants were to cut him, they would save just $1.4 million on the transaction.

It would be surprising if the Giants cut Harris this year, not with a $2.4 million dead cap figure looming and not after posting a Pro Bowl season despite his ineffectiveness as a punt returner.

Harris is more likely to be cut in 2018 (assuming his play takes a massive nose dive) when his base shoots up to $3.225 million and his cap savings will yield $2.45 million.

2017 Outlook

If the Giants stick with Harris—and it would be hard to imagine them not doing so given his toughness and commitment to the game and the finances—it’s imperative that Harris start to play smarter out there.

Being tough is one thing, but seeking out contact when you have a history of injuries is quite another, and it’s in this area that Harris would be well advised to try to limit. Whether he can do it remains to be seen.

DAMON HARRISON

2016 Season in Review

The Giants hit a major home run in their signing of this established run stopper who did not disappoint. Harrison not only was the picture of durability, toughing out a late season knee ailment, he brought his A-game to every snap.

As expected, Harrison was a load to handle in solo blocking, but what was most impressive was his athleticism for his size and his ability to shed blocks and create congestion between the tackles that took away the inside running lanes.

Harrison finished third on the team with 86 total tackles (55 solo), and, per Pro Football Focus, led the NFL in run-stop percentage for the fourth-straight season, posting 49 for the year. He also finished as the league-leader among interior defensive linemen with 86, yet was overlooked for a Pro Bowl berth.

Contract Status

(via Spotrac)

Harrison enters the second year of his five-year contract with a $10.6 million cap hit, a jump from the $6.6 million figure he carried in 2016. His 2017 base salary ($8.75 million) and $3 million of his 2018 base salary ($7.75 million) are guaranteed, so he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

2017 Outlook

Harrison’s role won’t change all that much moving forward, though what will be interesting to see is whether the Giants use him more in pass rushing situations. Harrison does have the initial quickness to beat a block off the snap, having recorded 2.5 sacks this season, but how much of an opportunity he gets to be an every-down lineman probably depends on whether the Giants can re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul or a suitable substitute.

BOBBY HART

2016 Season in Review

Hart’s second season started off slow and rather shaky. When Marshall Newhouse went down with a calf injury that knocked him out for several games, Hart stepped in as the starting right tackle, a spot where he started 12 games and mostly held his own.

Come crunch time at the end of the season, the team went back to Newhouse, partially due to a late-year forearm injury art suffered and, perhaps, partly due to Newhouse’s experience and some late season struggles Hart had, particularly against Brandon Graham of the Eagles.

The Giants also might have been looking to boost their run-blocking by inserting Newhouse into the lineup over Hart. In the regular-season finale, the Giants rushed for a season-high 161 yards, scoring their first 100-yard rusher (Paul Perkins) of the season.

Earlier in the year, before a calf injury put him on the shelf, the Giants also logged another 100-yard rushing performance (113 vs. Dallas, Week 1) with Newhouse in the lineup.

Hart wasn’t as quick as he need to be into his blocks and at times struggled to stay with his competition. A solid offseason devoted to improving his technique will go a long way toward determining his future starting status.

Contract Status

(via Spotrac)

Hart is entering the third year of his rookie deal, a year in which he’ll count for a very modest $632,897 against the 2017 cap.

2017 Outlook

Hart is only 22 so there’s lots of room for growth in his game.  He plays hard and he hustles and he’s not afraid to mix it up.  He doesn’t play a soft game, and has plenty of size to back things up.  This offseason, his focus needs to continue to be on getting stronger and becoming a better technician to help overcome his athletic limitations.

As to whether he’s a starter, that’s still up in the air as the Giants could probably live with him as a starter, but would probably prefer to add some competition to improve the play at right tackle. Then there is the matter of what they do with Ereck Flowers; if he gets moved to right tackle, Hart will likely push inside to guard where he will have to start from scratch.

MARK HERZLICH, LB

2016 Season in Review

A key cog on special teams, Herzlich finished with seven total special tackles for the second season in a row, a far cry from his first two seasons where he posted double-digit tackles as a core member of the special teams.

Defensively, Herzlich had a limited role, primarily as a short yardage defender, a role that might next year go to B.J. Goodson, if he’s ready for an expanded calling. Goodson could also potentially take on Herzlich’s role as the backup strong-side and inside linebacker if he progresses from year one to year two.

Another little-known contribution Herzlich is capable of making is as a backup long snapper. He took some reps there in the summer to learn the position, but as far as his quickness in being among the first down the field, he’s not quite in the same class as Zak DeOssie.

Contract Status

(via Spotrac)

Herzlich will be an unrestricted free agent.

2017 Outlook

Herzlich’s value will always be on special teams, where if DeOssie decides to call it a career, there could be an expanded role for Herzlich to take on should he re-sign on what will almost certainly be a short-term (two years at the most) type of deal.

Keep an eye on Jacksonville, where former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin currently resides. Coughlin has always had an appreciation and fondness for Herzlich’s blue-collar style of workmanship and his leadership—Herzlich, a cancer survivor, is a board of directors member of Coughlin’s Jay Fund.

With the Jaguars looking to add leadership to their young roster, it would not be surprising at all if Coughlin and the Jaguars come knocking at Herzlich’s door.