Colts surprisingly cut Johnathan Hankins one year after giving him $27 million deal

The Colts are apparently stealing Bill Belichick's "no days off" mantra. On Saturday, after already agreeing to a massive trade of draft picks with the Jets, the Colts went ahead and made a surprising personnel move that serves as yet another reminder that the huge contracts players get in free agency aren't always what they appear to be. 

One year after signing defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins to a three-year, $27 million contract, the Colts cut him.

The timing of the cut isn't surprising. If the Colts were going to cut him, Saturday was going to be the day. According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, $4.5 million of his $8 million salary would've been fully guaranteed on Sunday. 

But it's still surprising -- not just because the Colts signed him to a big contract a year ago, but because he's a good young player and the Colts need good young players. In 2017, Hankins graded out as Pro Football Focus' 20th-best interior defender, one spot ahead of Leonard Williams and two spots behind Stephon Tuitt. He's not much of a pass-rusher, but he's solid against the run, posting the 14th-best run-stop percentage at his position group, according to Pro Football Focus. Guess who finished in 15th: Aaron Donald.

Obviously, Hankins isn't the same caliber of player as Donald, but he's a solid defensive lineman who will be 26 when next season begins. Teams looking to bolster their defensive lines should be eager to compete for his services. 

For the Colts, the move likely comes down to their coaching change, which has them switching defensive schemes. Citing a league source, Stephen Holder of the The Indianapolis Star reported that the scheme change "was the driving force behind the decision to part with Hankins." Holder also reported that the move saves the Colts roughly $8.5 million against the cap after they paid him $10.5 million for his services in 2017.

While the Colts made a huge move to trade out of the No. 3 pick on Saturday, they haven't been all too active this offseason after hiring Frank Reich as their new coach in the aftermath of the Josh McDaniels fiasco. The release of Hankins turns defensive tackle into an area of need, which could be the position they target with the sixth-overall pick in the draft or any other of the draft picks they collected on Saturday. In addition to the Jets' first-round pick, the Colts also received the 37th-overall pick, the 49th-overall pick, and a 2019 second-round pick.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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