This time last year, Hankins signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts. Despite the fact he played relatively well during the 2017 season, the Colts released the 25-year-old.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio noted Indianapolis cut the defensive tackle a day before he was set to collect $4.5 million guaranteed of his $8 million salary in 2018.
Indy Sports Central's Mike Chappell added the Colts weren't absorbing any dead money as a result of the move and thus saved $8 million against the salary cap.
Still, some were surprised to read of Hankins' departure:
Hankins finished with 44 combined tackles and two sacks in 15 games for the Colts, and he helped Indianapolis take big strides against the run in his only season with the team.
The Colts allowed 120.4 yards per game in both 2016 and 2017, but their yards per carry allowed declined from 4.7 to 3.9, per ESPN.com. Football Outsiders also ranked Indianapolis 10th in run defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) last year, which was up from 32nd the year before.
That improvement isn't solely down to Hankins, but it's no coincidence it happened after he joined the franchise.
Brandon Thorn, who contributes to Bleacher Report's year-end NFL1000 rankings, listed Hankins as the 24th-best tackle in 2017:
"In run pursuit, he's aware of the ball and is a strong wrap-up tackler. Thanks to his play strength and hand usage, he gives a powerful jolt at the point of attack through his hips and hands to stack single- and double-team blocks with authority. He plays with a strong base to create stalemates, and he generates impressive torque to shed. Hankins' processing helps him expand and win outside leverage against reach blocks. As a pass-rusher, his bull rush and hand techniques help him win the chest of blockers and push the pocket."
Even if he had been available at the start of free agency, Hankins would have been one of the top defensive tackles on the market. The fact the Colts released him in the middle of March—at a point when other free-agent tackles had already signed—made him stand out even more.
Of course, that was a double-edged sword to some extent. Since teams had already addressed their defensive lines, it limited Hankins' options somewhat.
But it was only a matter of time before Hankins had a new home. Although the 26-year-old doesn't have the resume of Ndamukong Suh, he's a cost-effective alternative to the five-time Pro Bowler without being significantly worse on the field.
This signing comes just more than one week after the Raiders traded former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. In their first game in the post-Mack era, Oakland gave up 33 points (although seven came via pick-six) and 140 rushing yards on just 26 carries, an average of 5.4 yards per carry.
Last season, the Raiders allowed 108.9 rushing yards per game—and that was with Mack.
Hankins is a solid addition to Oakland's defensive line.