Imagine saying after the 2022 season ended that the Dallas Cowboys would put together a perfect start to the offseason nearly two weeks into free agency? The next domino to fall should come on the defensive line, specifically the DT position and preferably a run-stuffer to pair with ascending talent Osa Odighizuwa.
Bringing back Johnathan Hankins would really put a bow on free agency. At that point, the Cowboys could wait until the draft and the post-draft free agent frenzy to fill their remaining roster holes.
If the cap allows it, Dallas should retain Hankins and Carlos Watkins, who forced himself into the lineup by the time the playoffs started.
Hankins, though, is everyone’s preferred target, including the Cowboys’.
After the team re-signed Dante Fowler, ESPN’s Ed Werder noted Hankins is the “next defensive priority,” and Dallas wants him back.
The only issue? Hankins isn’t really looking for a new home right now. In replying to fans on Twitter, 105.3 The Fan’s Bryan Broaddus shared that Hankins is “dragging his feet on a possible signing.”
NFL Rumors: Cowboys hopes to re-sign Johnathan Hankins take a hit
This could mean a lot of things, but it sounds like Hankins is comfortable letting the market settle before he ups the ante to sign somewhere. In fact, Broaddus followed up to say Hankins just isn’t interested in signing at this time.
Is Hankins not interested in returning to Dallas? Is he suddenly contemplating retirement after a decade in the league? Now 31 years old and having played 116 games in his career, maybe Hankins is content bypassing the grind and tediousness of the early offseason program. Might he have training camp circled as his ideal signing timeframe? If so, can the Cowboys afford to wait that long?
We suppose that’s contingent on how the draft goes, but the front office shouldn’t sit around waiting for Hankins to make up his mind. This roster is in a great position — better than most “contenders” for the last week of March. It would make little sense to throw (some) of the progress they’ve made away by banking on Hankins to sign in the summer.
Signing Hankins won’t determine the success of the offseason, but hopefully this motivates Dallas to scour alternatives in the free agent market. A’Shawn Robinson (73.6 run-defense grade over the last two seasons) springs to mind as a potential target.
If nothing else, this update on Hankins underlines the notion that Dallas will draft an interior defender pretty early come April. Either way, don’t expect any movement on the Hankins front anytime soon.