Our 2018 roster review will reexamine the Lions’ roster and how it played out last season. We’ll take a look at expectations, performance and potential role in the future.
Today, we continue our discussion with Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.
Expectations before 2018
Prior to the 2018 season, Ansah was given the franchise tag designation by the Lions, a team with a dearth of talent along the defensive edge. The price for Ansah’s services was steep, but the team had an opportunity to see if the veteran could get healthy, return to form, and be the source of pressure this defense was so sorely lacking in 2017.
Actual role in 2018
2018 stats: 7 games (2 starts): 11 tackles, 4.0 sacks, three tackles for loss
PFF Grade: 74.5 (Didn’t qualify for rankings)
Those hopes were almost immediately dampened when Ansah landed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp. He would miss the first eight days of camp due to a tweaked hamstring he suffered during an offseason workout, and while he would make his eventual return in time for preseason action, the skepticism surrounding Ansah’s availability for a full season was put back into question.
However, Ansah was able to make the field for Week 1 against the New York Jets, a game where he recorded a sack to end the Jets second drive of the game, a tackle for loss, and three total tackles in just under a half of play. A shoulder injury suffered in the second quarter of Monday Night’s season opener put Ziggy on the shelf, and kept him from seeing the field again until Week 9.
Ansah would prove to be serviceable over the next few weeks, playing solid in run defense and generating some pressure off the edge—Ansah recorded sacks against Minnesota, Carolina, and Chicago over a four-week span. His season would come to an end, however, during Detroit’s Week 14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Ansah suffered an injury to his right shoulder, and Detroit placed him on injured reserve the following Tuesday.
Outlook for 2019
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
With Ansah’s limited availability due to injury over the past three seasons, and after playing on the team’s franchise tag this season, the Lions are once again faced with a tough decision: ante up in the hopes Ansah returns to form or cut ties with the former Pro Bowl defensive end and find an eventual replacement this offseason.
The price for an immediate replacement will be costly, requiring the Lions to invest significant draft capital—using something like the No. 8 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft—or turn to free agency and pay a premium for a proven talent like DeMarcus Lawrence or Jadeveon Clowney—both players who could realistically be given the franchise tag by their respective teams.
Of course, the team has the option to retain Ansah on another franchise tag designation, but with his lack of availability due to injuries over the past three seasons, it’s hard to justify the Lions shelling out that kind of coin to keep him in Detroit.
Should the Lions retain Ezekiel Ansah, and if so, on what terms?
This poll is closed
Yes, sign him to a long-term deal
Yes, give him the franchise tag
Yes, try to sign him to an incentive-laden deal
Previously: RB LeGarrette Blount