Player: Ziggy Ansah
2018 statistics with Lions: 7 games played, 4.0 sacks, 3 tackles for loss
2019 team: Seattle Seahawks
Contract terms: 1-year / $9 million
Few Lions were more polarizing over the last decade than edge defender Ziggy Ansah. The reasons for these sentiments are far from unfamiliar to Lions cognoscenti.
Ansah, the talented, physically gifted edge-rusher, was drafted fifth overall by Detroit in 2013. His rise to one of the most feared defensive linemen in the NFL seemed to reach a fever pitch after a career best 14.5 sacks in 2015. Then it went belly-up.
Ansah simply couldn’t stay healthy over the last three seasons, missing a total of 14 games games in that time with a series of injuries. But edge rushers are highly coveted in the NFL, and the perennially quarterback pressure-starved Lions had little choice but to give Ansah a franchise tag contract of $17.1 million in 2018. It turned out to be a serious gaffe.
He battled injuries again, hurting his shoulder after just 19 defensive snaps in a Week 1 loss to the New York Jets, and would appear in just six more games in 2019. With a disappointing return on their big investment, the Lions had had enough, and made no noticeable attempt to re-sign Ansah this offseason.
Little was heard on the Ansah front through the initial free-agency period, likely due to teams doing their due diligence with respect to his medical situation. The weeks went on, and no bites. A one year, prove-it deal seemed like the most likely ending.
After meetings with the Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens, Ansah finally signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks last week. Despite his continuing injury concerns, which could keep him out for a portion of the 2019 season, the Seahawks were in a tough spot in the pass rush department.
Unable to come to contract extension terms with emerging edge Frank Clark, Seattle dealt him to the Kansas City Chiefs in a deal that included the Chiefs’ 2019 first round draft pick. They used that pick to select edge rusher L.J. Collier, but relying on a raw rookie to lead your pass rush each week would be ill-advised.
The Seahawks obviously hope that Ansah can be on the field enough to get some pressure on the talented group of quarterbacks in the NFC West. Ansah has also become a solid run defender as he’s gotten older.
It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Ansah miss some time again this season with an (insert body part here) injury. Considering the Lions’ luck though, it may be even less surprising to see him rack up 10-plus sacks, lead a top five defense and help the Seahawks return to the postseason.