The New York Giants recently traded away iconic defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul for an additional third-round pick and cap-space in 2019. The trade confirms the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, as the Giants are likely planning on converting Olivier Vernon to a outside linebacker.
The defensive change can be seen as a good thing, as the Giants have been extremely inconsistent on the defensive side of the ball. The front-four was lackluster in 2017 to say the least. New defensive coordinator James Bettcher implements a very interesting 3-4 system, as he requires athletic linebackers and strong nose tackles to plug up running lanes.
Pierre-Paul’s massive contract wasn’t worth the money anymore, and his one lone 10-plus sack season in six years attests to that assumption.
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So, moving forward, who can the Giants plug in on the defensive line to provide strength, durability, and experience? The current defensive tackles are Dalvin Tomlinson, Damon Harrison, and Jay Bromley. I think we can all agree Bromley isn’t a guy you want starting on your team for a majority of snaps.
Here’s who the Giants can find on the free agency market to fill the void:
Reuniting with a lost gem:
The Giants could very well choose to pursue former Colts’ defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins; once a monster run-stopper for Big Blue just a few years ago.
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Hankins played in 15 games last season, enjoying a healthy year in 2017. He counted about $10 million cap-space, but was set to see a dip to about $8.5 million the following season (2018).
Some team is going to get a very good run defender in Johnathan Hankins and a top 25 DT in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/KYkjfsqj8K
— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) March 17, 2018
After being released, Hankins’ value depreciates, making him a very interesting option for GM Dave Gettleman. Being that the Giants will have an additional $20 million in 2019 from JPP’s contract, and another $20 million from Eli Manning (potentially), Hankins is a ‘VERY’ realistic option.
Bringing back a guy that can stuff the run and bat passes down with a huge frame would be huge, and would make an immediate impact. The Giants could have one of the best run-defenses in the NFL with a defensive line consisting of Harrison, Tomlinson, and Hankins.
Adding a few secondary pieces to the mix would transform a defense that ranked 28th in points allowed per-game, 31st in yards-allowed, 31st in pass-yards, and 27th in rush-yards.