Ziggy Ansah Could Be Playing His Final Year In Detroit In 2018.
In case you haven’t heard the news yet, the Detroit Lions and defensive end Ziggy Ansah failed to reach an agreement for a contract extension before Monday’s deadline for franchise-tagged players. While this move isn’t shocking to many Lions fans, it should be looked at as a good one by GM Bob Quinn. Ansah wasn’t the only one to have the same result, as running back Le’Veon Bell, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and safety Lamarcus Joyner all didn’t sign an extension with their teams.
Ansah’s story is different though. While Bell is playing on back to back franchise tags and Lawrence is coming off a career year, Ansah’s ability to stay healthy and be impactful is what led to a franchise tag and what could have had a decision in signing an extension as well.
This was the right move overall. Ansah has a lot going against him in the 2018 season, and many factors could lead to the ending of Ansah in Detroit. We even had a writers huddle about franchise tagging Ziggy Ansah back in March. With that said, let’s take a look at why Ansah not signing an extension was the right move for Detroit.
Inconsistency & Injuries Has Hindered Ziggy Ansah
The biggest thing about Ansah has been injuries in the NFL. The past two years Ansah has only missed five games, but in 2016 he didn’t play much. Ansah has had multiple injuries pile up over the past few years. From his ankle to his knee and back, every part of Ansah’s body seems to be bothering him and that isn’t a good sign for his future.
You want your star players out there a majority of the time, and if Quinn is paying Ansah big bucks to be on the sidelines, then something is wrong. Quinn isn’t dumb and won’t overpay for a player that won’t produce much.
Speaking of production, that is something else that has been a problem for Ansah. While his first three seasons were very impressive, getting 30 sacks in those three years, he has gotten just 14 in the last two seasons. Despite getting 12 last season, they weren’t the same as they were in 2015. Ansah one week would get two or three sacks, then be quiet and a few weeks later explode again. If you’re going to pay for a top guy like that, you expect a consistent type of effort every week.
Upcoming Draft Class Loaded With Talent
In the 2018 NFL Draft there was some talent along the defensive line, but thin at the defensive end position for impact starters and at pick 20, Detroit was too far up to get somebody to replace Ansah easily, so they focused elsewhere and didn’t put much emphasis on getting defensive line help this season, by only drafting Da’Shawn Hand in the fourth round.
The 2019 NFL Draft class is filled with talent on the defensive line in general, but the defensive end list is even better and longer. Three names to look out for during this college football season are Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
Gary was the number one prospect in the 2016 class and has been one of the many enforcers on the Michigan defensive line having 81 tackles, 16.5 for loss and six sacks in two seasons. Bosa is the younger brother of Los Angeles Chargers defensive end and former first-round pick Joey Bosa and has been dominant for Ohio State, getting 63 tackles, 23 for loss, and 13.5 sacks in his two seasons as well. Clelin Ferrell was leaning towards of going to the draft last season but ended up coming back to Clemson and build up his rather already impressive resume of 111 tackles, 30.5 for loss, and 15.5 sacks in his three seasons.
While those three players are all projected to be high first-round picks, the draft order is uncertain right now, so other needs might need to be addressed with teams before defensive end and they could see a dip, but none of them should escape the first round at all.
Cheaper & Younger Options In Free Agency Next Season
Another factor in the decision to not re-sign Ansah to a long-term deal is his age. Ansah turned 29 this year and will be 30 when he plays next season under a new contract. That means he only has four to five good years left, if that, before his time is up in the NFL. Detroit could see that and pay somebody else who is younger the same amount if not less to do the same job.
Detroit won’t try and pay for Lawrence, so don’t get your hopes up with that, but there are other average options for Detroit if they decide to go with that route over the draft next year.
Dante Fowler Jr. from Jacksonville is a name that keeps popping up as possible trade scenarios for Detroit. His rookie year he tore his ACL in minicamp and since then he hasn’t been quite the same. He did get eight sacks last season on a very good Jaguar defense, so this season is big for him to get paid.
Other options could be Frank Clark from the Seattle Seahawks or Mario Edwards from the Oakland Raiders. Detroit will have its hands full when the decision comes around again next year, and don’t expect them to tag Ansah again in 2019. This is his contract year, and either Detroit will pay him next year on a friendly deal, or somebody else will show Ansah the money and overpay for him.