Colts release veteran DT Johnathan Hankins

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Shortly after sending shockwaves through the NFL by trading the third overall pick in the April draft, the Indianapolis Colts created another one Saturday.

The team released veteran defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, one of general manager Chris Ballard’s key free-agent acquisitions last offseason. Hankins appeared in 15 games last season, finishing with 44 tackles and 2 sacks.

The Colts signed Hankins to a three-year contract last offseason that carried a maximum value of $30 million. There was no official reason given for Hankins’ release, but it’s believed $4.5 million of his $8 million base salary was due to become guaranteed in the next few days.

Hankins was paid $10.5 million last year.

Hankins’ release creates a sizable void – and we’re not just talking about his 6-2, 325-pound frame – on the defensive line as the Colts transition to a 4-3 scheme.

Remaining interior linemen include Al Woods, Hassan Ridgeway and Grover Stewart.

 You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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