Ezekiel Ansah

49ers To Host Ziggy Ansah For Second Time

It would seem that the 49ers are interested in former Lions and Seahawks defensive end Ziggy Ansah. The club met with Ansah last month, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports, Ansah will be back in San Francisco today to undergo COVID-19 testing in advance of a workout on Tuesday (Twitter link).

Though Ansah’s salary is unlikely to be particularly large, it would not be surprising to see interest in his services pick up after Week 1 in order to prevent that salary from becoming fully guaranteed. The 49ers are trying to prevent other clubs — like the Ravens and Bills, who are reportedly interested in Ansah — from swooping in to sign the 31-year-old.

Though the 49ers have several high-profile talents that can wreak havoc off the edge, like Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the club is “starving” for pass rush depth (Twitter link). Ansah certainly fits the description of a high-reward, low-risk pickup that could provide a jolt to the Niners’ DE rotation.

The No. 5 overall pick of the 2013 draft, Ansah posted a double-digit sack campaign as recently as 2017. A shoulder injury marred his 2018 season and delayed his 2019 debut, but he is now another year removed from that injury, so while he may not be the sack leader in anyone’s locker room at this point, he may still be able to provide starter-caliber play.

The 49ers kick off their season against the Cardinals this afternoon and will hope that their current group of edge defenders can make life difficult for Arizona QB Kyler Murray.

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Broncos Reached Out To Cameron Wake, Couldn’t Agree On Deal

The Broncos continue to seek replacements for Von Miller. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the organization recently reached out to free agent pass rusher Cameron Wake. However, the two sides were unable to agree on a contract.

Earlier this week, Denver lost Miller to an ankle injury that will likely sideline him for the entire season. While there’s *some* optimism that the veteran linebacker could return towards the end of the campaign, that hasn’t stopped the front office from approaching free agent pass rushers. We heard the other day that the Broncos inquired on veteran edge rusher Clay Matthews. The team was informed that Matthews is “not going to play,” but agent Ryan Williams later clarified that he was “unable to come to an agreement with Denver,” and his client “remains open to playing in the NFL in 2020, provided it’s the right opportunity for him and his family”

So, the Broncos apparently turned their focus to Wake, who earned five Pro Bowl nods during his 10 seasons with the Dolphins. The veteran spent the 2019 season with the Titans, compiling four tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 11 quarterback hits in nine games. When the 38-year-old was cut by Tennessee back in March, he indicated that he wanted to play during the 2020 campaign.

Denver’s offer to Wake was well off its Matthews proposal, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Broncos also pursued Aldon Smith before the Cowboys signed him; Klis adds the team has not contacted Terrell Suggs or Ziggy Ansah about a deal.

Assuming the Broncos don’t end up signing a linebacker who can play this weekend, the team will enter the season with some question marks at linebacker. Former first-rounder Bradley Chubb has been working his way back from a torn ACL, and the team is otherwise relying on the likes of Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell, Malik Reed, Jeremiah Attaochu, and Mark Barron.

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Bills, Ravens Monitoring Ziggy Ansah

The Bills and Ravens have free agent DE Ziggy Ansah on their radar, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Ansah has sent a workout video of himself to NFL teams in an effort to show that he is fully recovered from his recent shoulder injuries.

Of course, Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney were supposed to be an edge rushing nightmare for the Seahawks last year, but things didn’t work out as planned. Clowney managed just three sacks and Ansah posted only 2.5 sacks in eleven games. Still, the potential is there – Ansah registered 12 sacks in 2017 for the Lions, and he would be a serious threat if he could regain his old form. Now another year removed from the shoulder surgery that marred his 2018 season and delayed his 2019 debut, he profiles as a potential low-risk/high-reward pickup.

The 49ers brought Ansah in for a workout earlier this month, but it’s presently unclear where things stand on that front. Buffalo and Baltimore, meanwhile, both boast strong defenses that could nonetheless benefit from another pass rusher.

The Bills bid adieu to last season’s sack leaders, Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson, in free agency, though they did add Iowa standout AJ Epenesa in the second round of this year’s draft. The Ravens, meanwhile, don’t have much by way of proven edge rushing depth behind Matt Judon, and while the club has been loosely connected to Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue, the price tag for either player probably puts them out of Baltimore’s range.

Ansah, 31, has one Pro Bowl to his credit, which came after a 14.5-sack campaign in 2015. The fifth overall pick of the 2013 draft appears ready to sign with a new team as soon as possible.

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49ers Meet With Ziggy Ansah, Dion Jordan

The 49ers are taking a close look at two of their rival’s former defensive ends. Ziggy Ansah and Dion Jordan will meet with SF brass on Tuesday afternoon, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter links). 

[RELATED: 49ers’ DJ Reed Out For Season]

Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney were supposed to be an edge rushing nightmare for the Seahawks last year, but things didn’t work out as planned. Clowney managed just three sacks and Ansah posted only 2.5 sacks in eleven games. Still, the potential is there – Ansah registered 12 sacks in 2017 for the Lions, and he would be a serious threat if he could regain his old form. Now another year removed from shoulder surgery, he profiles as a potential low-risk/high-reward pickup.

Jordan signed with the Raiders in November after serving a 10-game suspension for a PED violation, Playing in a rotational role, the former No. 3 overall pick earned positive reviews from Jon Gruden and, at one point, seemed ticketed to join the club in Las Vegas. Instead, he could stay in the Bay Area.

Ansah and Jordan delivered mixed results for the Seahawks, but they could provide potent support behind Niners stars Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa.

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Top Edge Rushers Still Available

Putting pressure on the opposing quarterback is critical to a team’s success in today’s NFL, and there are a number of players still languishing on the free agent market who are capable of doing just that. While the pandemic has understandably made teams leery of authorizing big-money contracts, some of the available talent can be had for a fairly minimal commitment, and it would not be surprising to see them come off the board as we get closer (hopefully) to training camp.

So let’s take a look at the best of the unsigned pass rushers.

  1. Jadeveon Clowney: Not many players have been in the news more than Clowney this offseason. By now, everyone knows that Clowney was seeking a multi-year deal with an AAV of at least $20MM when free agency opened, but he has had to modify his demands in a big way. The Browns are believed to have two offers on the table: a one-year pact worth $15MM, and a multi-year contract worth around $12MM/year. Cleveland does not seem to be high on Clowney’s list of preferred destinations, but the club does have the makings of a postseason contender. It will be interesting to see if another team tries to top the Browns’ proposals to land a potentially game-changing talent.
  2. Everson Griffen: Back in May, Griffen was rated as our No. 3 best available free agent, and he would be the No. 2 talent on that list today now that Cam Newton has signed with the Patriots. Shortly after the list was published, we heard that the Cardinals may be interested, but nothing has transpired on the Griffen front in the last six weeks. The 32-year-old showed that he still has plenty left in the tank after registering eight sacks in 2019, and the fact that he is still unsigned may indicate that his contract demands are too high right now.
  3. Ezekiel Ansah: The Seahawks paired Clowney with Ansah in 2019 with the hopes of creating a true two-headed pass-rushing monster. That did not exactly work out as planned, as Clowney managed just three sacks and Ansah posted 2.5 while playing in 11 games. Ansah just couldn’t regain the form that he displayed during his best years with the Lions, and it certainly seems as if he does not have another double-digit sack campaign in him. Still, he is another year removed from the shoulder injury that marred his 2018 season and delayed his 2019 debut, so he will surely get a chance to be a part of someone’s pass rush rotation in 2020.
  4. Michael Bennett: Bennett wants to play in 2020, but thus far, it doesn’t sound as if there has been much interest in his services. The three-time Pro Bowler enjoyed a nine-sack effort with the Eagles in 2018, but he was traded to the Patriots in March 2019 and clashed with New England brass. In October, the Pats shipped him to the Cowboys, for whom he posted four sacks in nine games. In total, he collected 6.5 sacks last year while playing fewer snaps than he is accustomed to. He may very well start to attract more interest once camp gets underway.
  5. Markus Golden: No one other than the incumbent Giants has expressed interest in Golden since free agency began, and it seems like the 29-year-old will be back with Big Blue in 2020. The Giants put the rarely-used UFA tender on him, which means that he will only be eligible to play for New York if he does not sign another offer prior to the start of training camp (presently scheduled for July 28). Though Golden posted 10 sacks in 2019, he did so off of just 26 pressures, which teams likely see as an unsustainable conversion rate. The UFA tender would pay Golden $4.125MM this season.
  6. Jabaal Sheard: Sheard has never quite lived up to his potential as a game-changing pass rusher, and the 8.5 sacks he totaled in his rookie season in 2011 remain a career high. But he has averaged over five sacks per season over the course of a mostly-durable nine-year career, and he still looks the part of a starting DE. Fresh off a reasonably productive three-year stint with the Colts, Sheard has not yet been connected to any club this offseason.
  7. Clay Matthews: Matthews opened the 2019 campaign with his hair on fire, posting six sacks in the first five games of the season. It appeared that the two-year, $16.75MM contract the Rams gave to the longtime Packer in March 2019 was going to pay off in a big way, but Matthews suffered a broken jaw in October that derailed his season. He picked up two more sacks the rest of the way, and LA cut ties with him earlier this year. There have been no public reports of interest in the 34-year-old, but he could be a valuable veteran presence if deployed in the right way.
  8. Vinny Curry: Curry has always been a situational pass rusher. Even when he started all 16 regular-season games for the Eagles in 2017, he played in just over half of the club’s defensive snaps. His one year in Tampa Bay in 2018 was not a smashing success, but he returned to Philadelphia in 2019 to reprise his role as a player who can come in on passing downs and who represents a legitimate threat to get to the quarterback. The Jets were said to be interested in him in March, and Gang Green could still use pass rushing help, but the two sides have not yet come together on an agreement.
  9. Terrell Suggs: Suggs’ career accomplishments stand head and shoulders above those of most everyone else on this list. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and seven-time Pro Bowler has 139 career sacks to his credit, but he finally started to slow down in 2018, his final year in Baltimore, and he looked the part of an aging defender during his 13-game stint with the Cardinals in 2019. Arizona cut him late last season and he was scooped up by the Chiefs, which allowed him to collect his second Super Bowl ring. It’s unclear if T-Sizzle has any interest in continuing his playing career, but he has nothing left to prove.
  10. Cameron Wake: Another player that would be higher on this list if not for his age, Wake was released by the Titans in March. The 38-year-old has said he wants to keep playing, but after a terrific run with the Dolphins from 2009-18, Wake’s one year with Tennessee did not go according to plan. He registered just two sacks in nine games and missed the final stretch of the season with a back injury. He might well be healthy now, but we are unaware of any teams with interest at this point.

Injury Notes: 9/20/19

Here are the latest significant injury-related notes from around the league:

  • Marshall Newhouse, whom the Patriots signed last week, will serve as the club’s starting left tackle until Isaiah Wynn returns, per Doug Kyed of NESN.com (via Twitter).
  • As expected, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson will not play in Week 3, but the club is still optimistic about the availability of Alshon Jeffery and Dallas Goedert, as Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com tweets.
  • Buccaneers LB Devin White will not play this weekend, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard is out of the concussion protocol and will play in Week 3 per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (via PFT). Rookie QB Daniel Jones will be making his first start, so Shepard’s presence will be especially helpful.
  • The Seahawks are getting closer to full strength, as both WR David Moore and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah are expected to play in Week 3, per Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk. We had already heard that Ansah was likely to make his Seattle debut this weekend, but Moore’s return is earlier than expected, even after we learned at the end of August that he would avoid IR.
  • Top Jets defenders C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams are not expected to play this week, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. The Week 3 outlook is also bleak for WR Demaryius Thomas and LB Jordan Jenkins.
  • Tyler Kroft‘s Bills debut may be put on hold for awhile longer. Kroft was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, but as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes, Buffalo HC Sean McDermott told reporters that Kroft injured his ankle in Thursday’s practice and will undergo further evaluation.

Injury Notes: Foles, Ansah, Badgley

Nick Foles, who remains out indefinitely due to a broken left clavicle bone that was suffered last week against the Chiefs, had surgery this past Monday. During the procedure, Foles had plate and screws utilized while fixing the clavicle to ensure long-term health, and a source said it was a clean, straight-forward break, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

In preparation for his return, Foles will have multiple scans before setting foot on the field, with all parties wary of a re-break. Assuming everything heals properly, he’ll begin practicing the week before the Houston game in Week 9, then have the bye, then be back with the Jaguars Week 11.

Filling in for Foles is rookie Gardner Minshaw, who was named the league’s Rookie of the Week for his admirable performance against the Chiefs last week. Minshaw will remain the starter for the foreseeable future.

Lets’ check out some more injury notes from around the NFL:

Ziggy Ansah Returns To Practice

Despite earlier reports suggesting that he could miss at least a month of the regular season, we heard a few weeks ago that new Seahawks defensive end Ziggy Ansah was expected to be ready for Week 1.

And that timeline still seems accurate, as Brady Henderson of ESPN.com writes that Ansah practiced for the first time with his Seattle teammates today. Henderson says that Ansah, who had been limited to training on side fields, was seen taking part in warmups and positional drills. The longtime Lion is trying to rebuild strength in his surgically-repaired shoulder and to recover from a more recent groin injury.

Since Seattle likes to have players returning from long, injury-related absences to practice for at least two weeks prior to suiting up for game action, it’s significant that Ansah returned to the practice field 12 days before the team’s September 8 opener against Cincinnati. Head coach Pete Carroll said, “[j]ust to get the newness out of him and have a couple days to get back to practice again, I think will be really important to him … He has worked really hard on the outside, he’s been doing all kinds of drills and movement stuff and throwing heavy things and butting into stuff and all that to get ready and we feel very secure that he’s ready to go now.”

Ansah will not play in the team’s preseason finale, but his presence should be a boost to a Seattle pass rush that lost Frank Clark and will be without Jarran Reed for the first six games of the season.

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Seahawks Expect Ziggy Ansah For Week 1

The Seahawks’ defensive line has taken some hits this offseason. After the Frank Clark trade, Jarran Reed encountered a six-game suspension and first-round pick L.J. Collier suffered an ankle sprain that’s expected to sideline him a while.

Ziggy Ansah, however, tentatively stands to provide much-needed assistance. The seventh-year defensive end avoided the PUP list and has a good chance of being in Seattle’s starting lineup by Week 1, per Pete Carroll.

I’m counting on it that he’s going to make it,” the 10th-year Seahawks coach said during an interview with KJR Radio (via Pro Football Talk) of Ansah returning in time for the regular season. “I don’t see any reason that he wouldn’t. He’s doing great, has made progress throughout. I’m not really concerned about the preseason games for him. I just want to get him to game time if we can.”

Carroll hopes Ansah will be able to practice fully in the coming weeks. The longtime Lions defensive end has spent the past several months recovering from shoulder surgery. Should Ansah return in time for the Seahawks’ opener against the Bengals, he will be by far the most accomplished defensive lineman in the team’s lineup.

Ansah, 30, signed with the Seahawks shortly after the draft. Injuries, however, have limited the former top-five pick for much of his career. Most recently, he missed nine games for the 2018 Lions. He registered 12 sacks in 2017, prompting the Lions to use their 2018 franchise tag on him. Ansah has two seasons of at least 12 QB drops, having recorded 14.5 in a Pro Bowl 2015 campaign.

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Ziggy Ansah Avoids PUP List

Although Seahawks fans are surely frustrated by the surprising and controversial six-game suspension for DT Jarran Reed, they will be happy to hear that new defensive end Ezekiel Ansah will avoid the PUP list and will open training camp on the active roster. Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network passes along the good news (via Twitter), though he cautions that Ansah will be limited early as he continues to rebuild strength in his shoulder.

But as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes, the fact that Ansah will not start training camp on the PUP list indicates that his recovery has gone at least as well as expected thus far. Although reports from May indicated that Ansah could miss games, today’s news suggests he could be ready for Week 1.

Health, of course, has been an issue for the former Lions standout. The 30-year-old has 48 career sacks to his credit, including 14.5 from his Pro Bowl campaign in 2015. He also notched 12 sacks in 2017, but the years sandwiched in between have been filled with injuries and disappointment. Last year, Ansah registered four sacks in seven games after the Lions hit him with the pricey franchise tag.

In case you missed it, the Seahawks bolstered their D-line by signing Earl Mitchell earlier today.

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