Will the Detroit Lions be forced to draft a pass rusher high?
If the Detroit Lions elect not to re-sign their premier pass rusher in Ziggy Ansah this offseason, does it force the Motor City to find one early in the 2018 draft?
The Detroit Lions have some major decisions to make this offseason. And a majority of those choices are likely on hold due to the fact their rumored new head coach, New England Patroits’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, still has a Super Bowl to play before officially joining the team.
Despite the delay, Patricia has already started shaping his coaching staff for the upcoming season. Particularly on the defensive side of the ball. And as defense is his specialty, you’d have to think the new head coach has a thought or two when it comes Detroit’s premier pass rusher, Ziggy Ansah, and the free agent’s future in Detroit.
The 28-year old Ansah is likely looking for a monster payday this offseason. And if it’s not with the Lions, there appear to be plenty of other teams willing to fork over the cash for Ziggy on the open market. But it’s unclear whether Ansah is even the same player he was in 2015, back when he racked up 14.5 sacks and his lone Pro Bowl bid.
This past season, Ansah struggled with injuries all year. And despite his impressive 12.0 sacks total, the Lions know he racked up nine of those sacks in three games. And that his overall season performance was lackluster.
Whether Detroit opts to pay an aging Ansah or not will likely be a joint decision made by Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn. But if Ziggy isn’t re-signed, it appears to force the Lions to turn to the upcoming NFL draft to find his replacement.
"“Detroit’s biggest source of edge rush pressure is Ziggy Ansah, who will be hitting free agency unless they can get a last-minute deal done.” wrote Sam Monson for Pro Football Focus. “Ansah will be one of the best free agents available on the edge, so free agency likely isn’t where the Lions are replacing him. They’ll need to turn to the draft.”"
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Undoubtedly, the Detroit Lions are hoping defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. will return from his season-ending Achilles injury back to full form in 2018. His presence along with the elevated play by second-year defender Anthony Zettel gives Detroit a set of pass rushers who may be able to fill the void losing Ziggy Ansah would create. But an Ansah exodus would certainly make defensive end a major need for the Lions going into the upcoming draft.