It came down to the wire, but Ian Rapoport has reported that Detroit has exercised Ezekiel Ansah’s fifth-year option. The move doesn’t come as a surprise, but the Lions waited until the deadline day, May 2nd, to do so. Rumors had been circulating that the Lions would pick it up, but there were also rumors that Tulloch would be cut before his bonus was due and that never happened. Detroit fans can now breathe a sigh of relief.
Ansah, who made his first Pro Bowl last season after leading the NFC in sacks with 14.5, will now remain in Detroit through the 2017 season. He will be just a few months shy of his 28th birthday when, and if, he hits free agency following said season.
Former BYU star and Ghana native Ansah was taken fifth overall by the Lions in 2013, despite limited experience playing football. Top ten picks at defense ends will command $12,734,000, so that will be Ansah’s salary for the 2017 season. This will save Detroit several million dollars compared to the price of franchise tagging him, which would have cost $15,071,000 this season and will likely jump.
The focus now turns to Darius Slay, another member of the vaunted class of 2013. Slay, however, was a second round pick and therefore does not have a fifth-year option. Exercising the option on Ansah gives Detroit the ability to tag Slay, if necessary.
Ansah has 95 tackles, 30 sacks, nine forced fumbles, and two passes defensed through his first three seasons. He’s never had less than 7.5 sacks in a single season, and he nearly doubled his career total during his 2015 campaign.
In his post-draft press conference, Bob Quinn said that he believed football games were won in the trenches, and he reinforced that by picking up Ansah’s option. Now that one of the team’s building blocks will be in Detroit for two more years, Quinn can continue to build the rest of the franchise from the ground up.