Will the Detroit Lions add an edge rusher in free agency?
The Detroit Lions defensive line needs some attention this offseason, but will the team add an edge rusher in free agency?
If the Detroit Lions don’t want defensive end Ziggy Ansah to hit the market, today is the first day they can officially use their franchise tag on the talented edge rusher. As the window for applying the franchise tag to players opens for the league, other teams will look to lock up premier players as well. And Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is ahead of Ansah on the list of top available at the position.
While there’s very little chatter about Lawrence being on the Lions’ radar, it’s worth seeing how the Cowboys handle his situation. If, for some unforeseen reason, the Cowboys let Lawrence hit the market, it could shake things up for the Lions intentions with Ansah.
Most likely, Lawrence will be tagged and remain in Dallas. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this happen before the Lions tag Ansah, if that is their intention. This is a very top heavy year for edge rushers in free agency. Sports Illustrated even mentions a significant gap between Lawrence and Ansah, the only “difference makers” on their list at the edge position.
Lions fans will remember Ansah’s injury-plagued seasons while hoping to see his potential translate onto the field. When healthy, he attacks the pocket and makes a significant difference. Key phrase: “when healthy.”
If the Lions look to the free agent market, they’ll find edge rushers such as the aging Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints Alex Okafor who is coming off a torn Achilles, and the list trails off from there.
The situation this team faces is letting a high-profile player walk or paying the big money to retain talent. It’s a similar situation to watching Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril walk away back in 2013. He went on to win a Super Bowl as part of a juggernaut defense.
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Will the Detroit Lions let history repeat itself? Or do they think Ansah is worth the estimated $17 million this year? As one of the top free agents at his position, it’s a choice well worth considering. If they let him walk, the team has effectively tipped their hand for the draft as selecting a defensive end in the first round would be a certainty.