Last week the Colts made their biggest free agency splash yet this year, signing defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.
The deal was originally reported as a three-year deal with $30 million guaranteed, but we now have more details on the contract. According to ESPN’s Mike Wells, Hankins received a $7 million roster bonus for this year to go along with a $3 million salary that’s guaranteed, so he’ll have a $10 million cap number in 2017. Then in 2018, Hankins will have a $7.5 million salary, with $4.5 million of that guaranteed. In 2019, Hankins will have an $8 million salary, but with none guaranteed. Additionally, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports that Hankins has up to $3 million in incentives in his contract for playing time, sacks, and Pro Bowl appearances.
So let’s break down what that means. First, his impact on the salary cap this year will be $10 million, which places him among the Colts’ highest-paid players (especially on defense). But the Colts still have a decent amount of cap space remaining and had plenty of room to make the deal for Hankins, so it makes a lot of sense to have a significant cap number this year.
Second, Hankins has just $4.5 million guaranteed left on his contract following this year, and that will be paid in 2018. But what’s more significant than that number is what it represents: it is the first time Chris Ballard has guaranteed money to a free agent signing beyond this year. We’ve mentioned it before, but remember that Ballard has been structuring his signings so that there’s not guaranteed money left on the books beyond 2017. Going back to the Jack Doyle signing, the Colts have signed 17 players in free agency (including five re-signings) - and it took until Hankins for there to be guaranteed money beyond year one. And considering the fact that the Colts are incredibly unlikely to cut Hankins after one year anyway, it’s not a big deal at all.
Third, Hankins doesn’t have any guaranteed money in year three of his deal. So basically, it means that the Colts have Hankins locked in for two years and then could make a decision after that. Odds are Hankins will play well enough that it won’t even be a discussion at that point, but it’s still worth pointing out.
And fourth, this deal continues the Colts’ trend of utilizing incentives in contracts. We’ve seen the team give out a number of incentive-laden contracts this offseason, and Hankins’ deal is no different.
Ultimately, there’s not much to disagree with when it comes to the Colts’ contract for Johnathan Hankins. He’s the most expensive free agent they’ve signed this offseason, yes, but they had the money to make it work and added a good player.