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Colts sign Johnathan Hankins

NFL: New York Giants at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts have made their biggest free agent splash yet, as according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter they have signed defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. Schefter reports that it is a three-year, $30 million contract with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Hankins visited the Colts earlier this week, and obviously the two sides were able to work out a deal. This is a terrific addition to the Colts’ defense, as they get a young but talented player up front who can be a force against the run. Hankins is just 25 years old but has already impressed during four years with the Giants. Since he was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft, he has played in 52 games and started 41, recording 140 tackles, ten sacks, three forced fumbles, and three passes defensed. He started all 16 games last year for the Giants, notching 43 tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble.

The Colts so far haven’t really given big-money contracts to many free agents, but that meant that they had plenty of money available to spend. So the Colts had upwards of $30 million left in cap space, desperately needed defensive help, waited for the free agent market to subside a bit, and then went after Johnathan Hankins. That’s a smart thing to do, and in the end they wound up with a very good nose tackle. It’s unclear what this means for David Parry, who was previously going to be competing with Al Woods (who was also signed this offseason) at the position.

We’ve seen a big emphasis in the front seven so far this offseason for the Colts, as they’ve now signed three outside linebackers, an inside linebacker, and three defensive linemen. Out of that group, they’ve done their best to upgrade their front seven with additions such as Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, Sean Spence, and now Johnathan Hankins (all four of whom may be starters).

The defense is far from fixed, but without a doubt Hankins is the biggest addition that Chris Ballard has made so far during his tenure as the Colts’ GM. The Colts haven’t really had a true dominant force up front in the Chuck Pagano era, and the hope is that Johnathan Hankins can be that, particularly against the run. Again, this is a very good signing by the Colts.