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Colts needed Johnathan Hankins as much as he needed them

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts needed an upgrade at nose tackle. Johnathan Hankins needed to find a team as the biggest-name player still on the market more than a month after the start of free agency.

The Colts found their new starter and Hankins found his new team Thursday, when he inked a three-year contract for $30 million.

“Johnathan is a young, productive and disruptive defensive lineman,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said in a statement. “He possesses a wealth of experience and brings leadership to our team.”

Hankins’ patience was tested throughout the free-agency process. While he looked around for the best deal possible, fellow defensive lineman such as Dontari Poe, Brandon Williams and Bennie Logan signed new contracts.

Hankins, meanwhile, waited and waited. And waited some more for a team to offer him a deal he would like.

“I won’t say it was easy, but with the help of my family, my agent and knowing what was going on, we knew something was going to happen and something good was eventually going to fall through,” the 25-year-old said. “I wasn’t too stressed about it because I knew I was going to be playing football. It was never a question about playing football. Everything just worked out the way it was supposed to.”

Hankins arrives in Indianapolis with a reputation of being a run-stopper. He was part of a New York Giants defense that tied for third in the league against the run (88.6 yards per game) last season.

But Hankins -- a second-round pick in 2013 -- believes he can be an every-down player and contribute at defensive tackle on a Colts defense that was 30th overall in 2016.

“I want to be a three-down guy,” Hankins said. “I’ve been doing that when I was with the Giants in the past two years. It’s never been a problem. I’ve had 10 sacks in my career with the Giants, so I can definitely get sacks. I don’t just view myself as a run-stopper, even though that’s what got me in the league. But [ever since] I’ve been in the league, I’ve shown teams that I can get to the quarterback and I can be an all-around player.”

Chuck Pagano hasn’t had a dominant player to anchor his defensive line since he took over as Colts coach in 2012. He’s dealt with the likes of David Parry, the starter the past two seasons, Josh Chapman and Aubrayo Franklin at nose tackle. Hankins, in addition to those 10 sacks, has 140 tackles in his NFL four seasons.

“As long as I go out there and do my job and be productive ... I’m OK with that,” Hankins said. “Continue to do what I was doing with the Giants and bring a different dimension to this team and be more of a leader and get wins and get to the ultimate goal, which is win the Super Bowl. We’ve got some young guys, we’ve got some new guys and I’m one of those new guys, so I’m excited to get everything started.”