The Detroit Lions‘ roster could look very different in 2019. Here are five starters we believe might be playing elsewhere this upcoming season.
Out with the old, in with the new. It’s a harsh saying that perfectly represents the harsh reality that is the business side of the NFL. As we celebrate a shiny, new draft class every year, the fact is there are several veteran players looking for a new team that might never play professional football again.
For the Detroit Lions, that kind of turnover is expected to be much greater in 2019. Heading into his second season, Lions’ head coach Matt Patricia is expected to continue to churn the roster in Motown, finding other players who better fit his philosophy and scheme.
With that kind of change in mind, here are five Lions’ starters who may be playing elsewhere in 2019.
Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End
Height/Weight: 6-5, 275
Years in NFL: 6
Games started in 2018: 2
2018 Stats: 11 tackles, 4.0 sacks
2018 Salary: $17.1 million
2019 Status: Free Agent
Analysis: Has defensive end Ezekiel Ansah played his final game for the Lions? Based on his overall performance last season, many are predicting so. But premier pass rushers are ultra-rare in the NFL. And even considering Ansah’s recent injuries and inconsistent play, he does produce sacks.
Despite being limited to just six games last season due to a shoulder injury, Ansah was still able to produce 4.0 sacks. In two of the last four years, Ziggy has registered double-digit sack totals twice. 14.5 sacks in 2015 and 12.0 sacks in 2017.
But for most Lions’ fans the math simply doesn’t add up. Detroit signed Ansah to their franchise tag last season, costing the team a whopping $17.1 million in 2018 alone. And for that hefty price tag, he played in just six contests, recording 11 total tackles and the aforementioned 4.0 sacks.
Turning 30-years old in May and with the injuries piling up, it seems unlikely Detroit will opt to re-sign Ansah. But the team also knows if the Lions don’t give him a long term deal, some other NFL team will.