Denver Broncos Interested In Free Agent Defensive Tackle Johnathan Hankins

The Broncos have their eye on a former New York Giants second round pick.

Despite entering free agency with $42 million in available salary cap space, the Denver Broncos have been relatively quiet. Although GM John Elway professes to always look for "value" on the free agent market, this year's veteran recruitment period has been disappointing to fans. 

But that doesn't mean it hasn't been successful. 

The Broncos have already bolstered their porous offensive line, signing tier-one guard Ronald Leary to a four-year, $35 million deal on Thursday, and tackle Menelik Watson to a three-year, $18.3 million deal on Friday. At the NFL Combine, Elway said that Denver was looking to bolster the trenches on both sides of the ball. The Broncos entered a bidding war for defensive lineman Calais Campbell early on day one, but ultimately backed away when the Jacksonville Jaguars offered him $15 million per year. 

Even at the $13 million Denver reportedly offered Campbell, they were treading outside the "value" boundaries of what any sane football analyst would wager. Still, the Broncos knew when to back away. 

But they're not done looking to add on the D-line. Sources say that the Broncos are interested in former New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.

The big 6-foot-2, 320-pound Hankins was New York's second round pick in 2013 out of Ohio State. Not exactly known for his pass-rushing prowess, Hankins is the quintessential 0-technique nose tackle. 

He can stuff the run and fill the holes on the D-line with the best of them. Although he had a bit of a down year in 2016, Hankins is still young and could be a great option to step in at nose tackle for the Broncos. Sylvester Williams is signing with Tennessee, so Denver needs to get busy. 

Denver explored the possibility of acquiring Sheldon Richardson via trade from the New York Jets, but nothing has materialized yet. Trevor Siemian was talked about as a possible exchange for Richardson, along with a mid-round pick. But those talks are in a holding pattern until Denver gets clarity on the Tony Romo front. 

Elway swung and missed on Earl Mitchell, who signed a massive contract in San Francisco. The Broncos will see if they can get Hankins on a team-friendly deal. 

After finishing No. 28 against the run in 2016, the Broncos have nowhere to go but up. Fortunately, this year's D-line Draft class is deep and replete with impact players. 

UPDATE: The Broncos signed two defensive linemen on Saturday — Domata Peko and Zach Kerr — which likely means the team moved on from Hankins. Denver is checking on cost when they contact a player, and apparently, Hankins wanted more than John Elway was willing to pay. 

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Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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