Although he hasn’t signed with a new team yet, it’s inevitable that the New York Giants will lose defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins via free agency.After franchising defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and signing wide receiver Brandon Marshall to a two year 12 million dollar deal, they simply won’t have enough money to re-sign, according to Pro Football Focus, the 35th best available free agent two days ago.
During his four seasons with the Giants, Hankins amassed 140 tackles and had 10 sacks. However, you can’t just measure Hankins effectiveness by his individual stats. Sometimes it would take to linemen to block him, which created opportunities for his teammates to make plays.
Last season he and Damon Harrison formed arguably the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL, and that’s why the Giants rush defense was tied for third in the NFL. Harrison and Hankins were the primary reasons the Giants were able to overpower the Cowboys offensive line and sweep the Cowboys for the first time since 2011.
So it will be a tall order to replace the 6-foot-2, 320-pound Hankins to say the least. The player that is most likely to fill in for the void that Hankins leaves behind is fourth-year defensive tackle Jay Bromley.
The Giants drafted Bromley in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Syracuse. In 39 nine career games with the Giants, Bromley has 55 tackles and a sack.
Bromley has experience stepping in for Hankins as he replaced him in the final seven games of the 2015 season when Hankins tore his pectoral muscle. It was in that season where Bromley had a career-high 36 tackles.
While Bromley had the best season of his career in 2015, the Giants fell apart in Hankins absence. In the nine games with Hankins the Giants were 5-4, in the seven games without him they were 1-6. One of the reasons the Giants 1-6 finish to the season was that their rush defense went from giving up 114.71 yards per game to 129.85.
You can’t blame the downfall of the Giants on Bromley as the Giants defense was historically bad in 2015. But it shows how important Hankins was to the team. A benefit that Bromley will have in 2017 is that he’ll be playing alongside Harrison who was a first-team All-Pro last season. So that will make it an easier transition into becoming a full-time starter.
This is a make or break year for Bromley as he is entering the final year of his four-year contract. If he wants to receive a big contract next offseason, he must step up and play the best football of his career.
At 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds, Bromley has the physical presence to replace Hankins. The question is can he play up to the level that Hankins did.