According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Lions are expected to bring in free agent DTs Johnathan Hankins and Alan Branch for visits in the coming days. Yates adds that the Lions also have DT Sylvester Williams on their radar.
It’s worth mentioning that signing Hankins or Williams to contracts won’t impact a team’s 2019 compensatory picks, given that he was released this offseason.
Hankins, 25, is a former second-round pick of the Giants back in 2013. He played out the final year of his rookie contract last year before signing a three-year, $27 million contract that included $14.5 million guaranteed with the Colts.
Hankins was set to make base salaries of $7.5 million and $8 million over the next two years of the agreement when the Colts released him in a move that cleared $8,468,750 of available cap space.
In 2017, Hankins appeared in 15 games for the Colts and recorded 44 tackles, two sacks, and three pass defenses. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 20 interior defensive lineman out of 122 qualifying players.
Williams, 29, was taken with the No. 28 overall pick back in 2013. He played out the final year of his rookie contract but the Broncos elected to not pick up his fifth-year option, which allowed him to test the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
The Titans signed Williams to a three-year, $16.5 million contract that included $7.25 million guaranteed last year before releasing him in a move that freed up $3,083,332 of available cap space this offseason.
In 2017, Williams appeared in 15 games for the Titans and recorded 20 tackles and no sacks. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 67 interior defender out of 122 qualifying players.
Branch, 33, is a former second-round pick of the Cardinals back in 2007. He spent four years in Arizona before brief stints with the Seahawks and Bills.
The Patriots elected to sign him to a two-year, $4.3 million contract in March of 2015 and New England later brought him back on a two-year, $8.45-million contract last year. Branch was set to make a base salary of $1.7 million to go along with $1 million roster bonus for the 2018 season when the Patriots declined his option a few weeks ago.
In 2017, Branch appeared in 12 games for the Patriots and recorded 12 tackles and no sacks.
We have all three defensive tackles featured in our Top 50 Available 2018 NFL Free Agents list.