In today's Giants mailbag, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano talks about the club re-signing Jonathan Hankins and if the signing of free agent Rhett Ellison really solved the Giants' tight end issues...
Any chance the Giants re-sign Hankins -- @gpbloom
My standard answer to this is that as long as he's unsigned, there's always a chance. And that's true, even in this case. But the situation is a bit complicated.
First, nearly everyone I talked to around the league thought Hankins was in for a big-money free agent deal - one that would be close to, but probably not exceed what the Giants gave DT Damon Harrison last March. Suffice to say, a lot of people are stunned that his market never developed and it's looking more and more like he's going to have to play next season on a one-year, "prove-it" deal.
That would seem to bode well for the Giants' chances to retain him. And maybe it does, even though Bennie Logan just set the bar for "prove-it" deals for DTs with his one-year, $8 million contract with the Chiefs. As is, the Giants can't afford that, though as I mentioned above there are plenty of ways to create salary cap space.
But here's a question: Would Hankins want to return to the Giants in an attempt to re-establish his value? Yes, he'd be playing on a Top 10 defense and with what might be a Super Bowl contender. But he'd be the second-best defensive tackle and fourth-best defensive lineman on his team. He's valuable as a run-stopper, but not as valuable as Harrison, and he's not used much as an interior pass-rusher anymore.
Wouldn't it be better for him to go somewhere else where he'll be a more featured part of the defense so he can re-establish his value as something that's high? Maybe that opportunity doesn't exist, but I'm guessing it's something he and his agent will consider.
Do the Giants have their tight end issues resolved for the offseason with the Ellison signing? -- @GodofChickens97
I can't imagine they do. They believe Ellison is an important piece, especially because of his blocking, but I know the Giants went into the offseason thinking they had to upgrade over Will Tye as their receiving tight end. They nosed around most of the top tight ends on the market, but quickly learned that the prices were too high. Now they're kind of out of free-agent options, unless they want to make a late push for Jared Cook (someone they also probably can't afford).
There's still more than a month to go before the draft and it's hard to say who might be available at 23 or in the second round, but I am convinced that a true, pass-catching tight end will be high on their list of choices in each of the first two rounds. The Giants have seen first-hand how much a true receiving threat at tight end can stretch an opposing defense. It's ridiculous that they've gone this long without one of their own.
So no, I don't think Tye, Ellison, Jerrell Adams and Matt LaCosse provide the answers they've been seeking at the tight end position. I think before training camp begins they'll add at least one more.