To clarify on the contracts, I'm definitely imagining Hankins on more than a one year deal - guy has been a stud for a couple years now and is the youngest of the bunch (25 I believe). I think he's asking for $10M a year which is absolutely ludicrous but I think that's merely a starting point. Additionally, I fully understand your issue with multiple one year deals but it's not as if you would be re-signing all of them next year. Perhaps one...or two at most. We have done an outstanding job at managing the cap the past several years and certainly have room. Also, the key here is building through the draft. As I mentioned, this year has been pegged as one that is deep along the defensive line.
As for the safeties - you're right, DHall is a question mark, and Blackmon has played admirably but is certainly not getting younger. This is a question of prioritizing the front 7 vs the defensive backfield, which I think the majority of anyone would agree that stopping the run comes before stopping the pass. Not to mention that this team has been built for years with the intent to rush the passer and create turnovers. The key to that is to stop the run on early downs, force 2nd/3rd and longs and rush the passer. Kerrigan/Gallette/Smith/Murphy. Need I say more? Gallette, while certainly a question mark, is a luxury. We proved last year the other three can get after it and create plenty of pressure. Especially if afforded more obvious passing downs. I would say your concern for Cravens is a bit irrational - sure it's not an absolute guarantee he'll be a beast but his overall role from last year will not be significantly different - he was great for us in that role last year but even then it was near unanimous that he was playing out of position. I'd say it's fair to trust that he will be at a minimum an above average SS - a sure tackler that is not afraid to stick his nose in the run game and can also cover backs and tight ends.
Breeland - he got absolutely abused in the first couple games. That's a fact. He played much better down the stretch and I think even last year when looking at the season as a whole was a solid starting corner. Fuller is only going to be better in the slot. I'm honestly not sure what it will look like behind that - is Toler still under contract? Bottom line, the ONLY player we have acquired on the back end is Swearinger. I think it's complete hyperbole that you talk about having Hankins/Logan stopping the run but now we get "gashed over the top." Stop the run, put them in obvious passing situations. I think you're trying to say that swapping Swearinger for Hall or Blackmon = us getting gashed over the top. I simply disagree. Swearinger is a thumper but you cannot convince me that he is a SIGNIFICANT upgrade over Hall in coverage or Blackmon if Hall gets hurt. And overall, the impact Logan/Hankins would have in stopping the run and putting our pass rushers in good position and therefore our DB's to get turnovers results in a much greater pass defense than the single acquisition of Swearinger, who has never been some stud against the pass, specifically speaking to his play as a FS over the top.
You are not wrong about our inside linebackers. This is an area I feel we have quality depth in spaight, daniels and garvin as well as good special teamers. What we are lacking is a single high quality starter. I would, however, argue that once again we would all be impressed with how much better Compton/Foster would look playing behind two run stuffing/blocker eating studs like Logan/Hankins. They would be running free to the ball carrier as opposed to shedding guards. I'm not saying they'd look great, but that I would expect them to make more plays and contribute.
Finally, I feel you are completely disregarding the draft. We have a full complement plus extra picks. Odds are we come away with a new starter either on the defensive line, linebacking corps (inside) or safety in this draft or the next. So say we grab a quality nose tackle then you let Logan walk next year. It's hypothetical because it has to be but you can't deny that we won't at least come away with a handful of defensive players in the next draft or two.
I would like to submit that in addition to Logan/Hankins, I probably would have gone after Tyson Jackson as well as a strong veteran rotational player. Give me Pryor/Logan/Hankins/Jackson as my FA haul, cut RJF as we did, redo Hall's contract for much less which we will, and sign Cousins to a long term deal. The latter three save us more than enough money to sign the former four players and still have room for the draft picks. You have turned a weakness into a strength (run defense) and in doing so have FINALLY set the defense up to actually accomplish what we've said we've built it to do - rush the passer and force turnovers. We have the pass rushers and an elite corner. Hall, if healthy, is another ball hawk in the secondary, albeit an old one that is certainly diminished but I think serviceable, as is Blackmon. Cravens has a nose for the ball. Breeland is and was still a solid starter last year and I'm not overly worried about him. This is what our defense is designed to do but to make it work stopping the run priority number one. Yet I have still not seen us commit to a defensive line that is even remotely capable of doing so. Have faith in McGee and McClain being an improvement over the debacle of the past several years, but don't be shocked when we give up damn near 5 ypc again.