OAKLAND, Calif. — The Raiders were pleased Sunday to re-sign defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins before he could reach free agency.
The development, however, created a possible logjam.
A decision awaits this week on the Raiders future of nose tackle Justin Ellis. His $2.25 million salary for 2019 will become fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster Friday. While the team could retain both run stoppers, the small window for financial savings with Ellis makes a potential trade or release worth monitoring.
Moving on would save $2.5 million in cash and cap space, including a $250,000 workout bonus. He still would count $2.25 million in dead money against the 2019 cap because of a roster bonus that became fully guaranteed on March 17, 2018.
Last March, Ellis signed a three-year extension worth up to $13.5 million, but little opportunity followed to showcase his talents to the Raiders’ new coaching staff. On Sept. 10, early in the second half of the first game, he suffered a foot injury when he tripped over linebacker Derrick Johnson while in back-end pursuit on a running play against the Los Angeles Rams.
Days later, he was placed on injured reserve, and the team signed Hankins.
Ellis, 28, missed 10 games before being activated. Months of rest and rehabilitation, however, noticeably stripped him of peak physical form. He gave the Raiders what he had in a rotational role, averaging 17.6 defensive snaps during the final five weeks.
Hankins, 26, averaged 38.2 defensive snaps when starting 14 of 15 games. His two-year contract is worth $8.5 million. Of it, $5.25 million is tied to full or partial guarantees.