Ezekiel Ansah

Ezekiel Ansah Won’t Sign Until April

Ezekiel Ansah stands as one of the best pass-rushers remaining on the open market, though many expected him to be off the board by this point in the offseason. As it turns out, teams want to learn more about his surgically repaired shoulder, according to his agent (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). 

The plan, for now, is to wait until Ansah’s follow-up appointment in mid-April to determine his readiness for the upcoming season. That appointment will (roughly) mark the four-month anniversary of his operation, which should give a clearer picture of where Ansah stands in his recovery.

Ansah appeared in just seven games for the Lions last year before his shoulder took him out of action. However, Ansah has shown serious potential in the past with two 12+ sack seasons. As recently as 2017, Ansah profiled as one of the best edge rushers in the game.

The Bills and Saints have both shown interest in Ansah and the Jets could be a potential suitor for him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Remain Interested In Ziggy Ansah

The Bills have three defensive ends set to return from last year’s team, but there’s still room for more help on the edge. The Bills recently met with Ezekiel Ansah and GM Brandon Beane says they’re still interested. 

We had a great visit with Ziggy and he’s a great young man,” Beane said on WGR 550 (via Matt Parrino of New York Upstate). “He had a tough shoulder injury last year and he’s still rehabbing that. I know he went on a couple other visits, or at least one other that I’m aware of. We had great talks with him and his agent. It’s kind of just at a standstill right now but it doesn’t mean it will or it won’t happen. We’ll see going forward and we’ll stay in touch with him and his representatives.”

Whether Ansah signs with the Bills or not, Beane seems to be leaning toward adding more talent on the d-line either in free agency or the NFL Draft next month.

Ansah has talent and question marks in equal measure. After shoulder surgery, Ansah appeared in just seven games for the Lions last year. However, he has two 12+ sack seasons to his credit, with the most recent one coming in 2017.

The Bills’ interest makes sense, though it’ll likely come down to cost. More specifically, the Bills would probably aim for a deal that has a modest base salary, affording them some protection in the event of another injury.

Regardless of what happens with Ansah, it sounds like the Bills are keen on adding edge rushers in April’s draft.

There’s a couple guys out there (on the free agent market) but we’re mainly in a holding pattern there,” Beane said. “I don’t know that there’s a guy out there that we would probably jump on before the draft. But depending on what we land in the draft maybe there’s some guys that we pursue after that separate of Ziggy, whether we go after him or not.”

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Saints Notes: Ansah, Emanuel, Rankins

The latest from New Orleans:

  • Although the Saints recently met with free agent defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, no deal is imminent between the two parties, according to Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune (Twitter link). That’s because New Orleans — and other clubs with interest — want to evaluate the status of Ansah’s shoulder before signing him. Ansah was limited by that shoulder issue all year long, and ultimately appeared in only seven games while trying to work through the ailment. The Bills have also met with Ansah, who was the Lions’ franchise player in 2018.
  • The Saints hosted linebacker Kyle Emanuel for a visit on Thursday, tweets veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer. Emanuel, 27, started 33 games for the Chargers over the past four years, but only topped 50% playing time in a season once during that span. He’s been a force on special teams, however, seeing at least 150 ST snaps in each of his pro campaigns. New Orleans already has Alex Anzalone, Demario Davis, and A.J. Klein as is starting linebackers, so Emanuel would serve as depth if signed.
  • After tearing his Achilles in the Divisional Round of the postseason, Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins is likely to begin the 2019 regular season on the physically unable to perform list, which would force him to miss the first six games of the year, per Nick Underhill of the Advocate (Twitter link). Rankins, 24, played the most snaps of any Saints defensive tackle in 2018, managing 40 tackles (12 for loss), eight sacks, and 15 quarterback hits in the process. Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, graded Rankins as the No. 23 interior defender among 119 qualifiers.

Bills, Saints To Host Ziggy Ansah

The pass rusher market has begun to move rapidly, with the Packers doing much of the heavy lifting on this front Tuesday. One of the biggest names left unsigned will enter the picture now.

Ziggy Ansah has visits scheduled with the Bills and Saints, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Bills will get the first visit, per Rapoport.

While free agent peers Trey Flowers, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith agreed to deals without visits, teams obviously want to examine Ansah given his recent struggles with injuries. The former top-five overall pick missed most of last season due to injury, and the Lions’ Flowers addition signals they are indeed moving on from their six-year defensive end.

Ansah, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, played in just seven Lions games last season. This came after Detroit franchise-tagged its top pass rusher. Ansah, who is set to turn 30 in May, has two 12-plus-sack seasons — the most recent coming in 2017. But he has battled injuries for a while now.

Buffalo could obviously outbid New Orleans for Ansah, given the cap space disparity between these franchises, but Ansah’s recent history might not point to a high-end deal.

Jets Interested In Fowler, Ansah

The Jets’ need for pass rushing help has been well documented and they’re already targeting some of this year’s biggest available names. Gang Green is showing interest in Dante Fowler (Rams), Ezekiel Ansah (Lions), and Preston Smith (Redskins), according to ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). 

This year’s crop, at first glance, is positively loaded with impactful edge rushers. However, top flight guys like Demarcus Lawrence (Cowboys), Jadeveon Clowney (Texans), Frank Clark (Seahawks), and Dee Ford (Chiefs) are expected to receive tags or sign long-term deals with their respective clubs. That may leave the Jets to sift through some lower tier options, though Fowler, Ansah, and Smith all have upside.

Fowler, a former No. 3 overall pick, didn’t do a ton during the regular season, but he made a dent in the Rams’ first two playoff games. Ansah was limited to just seven games in 2018, but his history (14.5 sacks in 2015; 12.0 sacks in 2017) shows that he’s capable of much more when healthy. Smith, who had only four sacks last year, has amassed eight sacks in two of his four pro seasons and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ eighth-best 3-4 outside linebacker in the league in 2018.

With $102MM+ to burn, the Jets should be able to sign at least a couple of impact edge rushers in March.

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Lions Won’t Rule Out Ezekiel Ansah Return

The Lions are unlikely to use the franchise tag on Ezekiel Ansah, but GM Bob Quinn won’t rule out a return. When asked about the possibility recently, Quinn seemed to leave the door open to a new deal at a lower price. 

[RELATED: Lions Unlikely To Pursue Golden Tate]

Part of that is the medical,” Quinn said after the season (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). “Part of that is the, ‘How long is he going to be out? What do we think when he gets recovered? Is he going to be the same?’ So all these things kind of factor in, so I don’t have an answer today. I’ll say this about Ziggy. Ziggy fought through some things this year. Ziggy’s extremely, extremely tough and I’m proud of him being a Detroit Lion because he, like Matthew Stafford, he played through some things that a lot of guys wouldn’t and I appreciate that.”

Ansah would make $20.57MM if he were tagged for a second straight year. There’s no realistic chance of that happening Ansah missed 9 games and finished out with just four sacks.

Ansah has suffered two serious shoulder injuries in his six seasons with Detroit and was pretty much a non-factor for the Lions’ listless defense last year. However, he’s flashed in the past. In 2015, he recorded a career high 14.5 sacks en route to his first career Pro Bowl selection. In 2017, he has 12 sacks across 14 games.

In theory, an incentive-laden one-year deal could make sense for both parties. However, his spotty history could give the Lions pause, and Ansah’s camp may prefer to roll the dice on the open market where teams pay a premium for accomplished pass rushers.

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Extra Points: Cooper, Raiders, Ansah, Lions, Firings

The trade of Amari Cooper from the Raiders to the Cowboys has been one of the most discussed stories this NFL season. The conventional wisdom had been that new coach Jon Gruden wanted him gone as he sought to stockpile more draft picks to completely rebuild the Raiders the way he wanted, but new information suggests that might not be the case. Cooper himself told Calvin Watkins of The Athletic (Twitter link) that it was Raiders owner Mark Davis who wanted him gone and not Gruden.

Cooper shares an agent with Khalil Mack, and rumors have swirled online for a while now that there may have been bad blood between Davis and Mack’s agent after the two sides were unable to work out a new deal for the defensive end. That being said, the notion that Davis is the one who wanted Cooper off the Raiders isn’t true, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who tweets that Cooper is misinformed. It’s unclear who’s right, but it’s likely this isn’t the last we hear of this story.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was placed on injured reserve recently, and has likely played his last game as a Lion, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Birkett writes that he “can’t see” Ansah returning to Detroit, even on a “one-year prove-it deal.” Ansah is a very talented pass-rusher, but has been unable to stay healthy the past couple of years while the Lions have paid him a ton of money. His free agency and what type of deal he’s able to land will be one of the most interesting to monitor this spring.
  • There will surely be a bunch of coaching moves on Black Monday once the regular season is over, but there have already been a bunch of moves made this season, and Field Yates of ESPN.com recapped all of the in-season firings (Twitter link). Packers head coach Mike McCarthy & associate head coach Winston Moss, Browns head coach Hue Jackson & offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFillipo, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith, Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and Lions special teams coordinator Joe Marciano have all been let go this year. We’ll know more very soon, but at least a few more head coaching jobs will be open soon, with Vance Joseph, Dirk Koetter, and Todd Bowles being the most likely candidates to be replaced.
  • In case you missed it, the Seahawks are interested in re-signing linebacker Mychal Kendricks once he serves his sentence for insider trading.

Lions Shut Down DE Ziggy Ansah

Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah has been placed on injured reserve, according to a team announcement. Ansah has been hurt for much of the season and was forced out of Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, so the move does not come as a surprise. 

This has been a frustrating year for the Lions and Ansah alike. In the offseason, the Lions kept Ansah from the open market by applying the expensive $17.1MM franchise tag. At the time, the Lions indicated that they were willing to discuss a long-term deal because they wanted to see if Ansah could deliver a second consecutive monster season. Unfortunately, injuries completely derailed Ansah and the Lions’ season tanked.

Ansah managed four sacks in his seven games, but he appeared in just 146 snaps on the entire year. That’s hardly the follow-up the Lions wanted after he notched 12 sacks and 44 overall tackles in 2017.

Ansah will be a fascinating case to watch in free agency. The 29-year-old (30 in May) has turned in two great seasons (2015, 2017), two good seasons (2013, 2014), and two dud seasons (2016, 2018) thus far in his career and his health moving forward is obviously a concern. The silver lining here is that his placement on IR will allow him to immediately undergo surgery for a labrum issue, meaning that he should be ready for training camp in 2019.

The veteran figures to be one of several intriguing pass rushers to hit the open market in March. Frank Clark (Seahawks), Jadeveon Clowney (Texans), Trey Flowers (Patriots), Dee Ford (Chiefs), and DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys) are also on course for free agency in 2019.

The Lions also placed tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) on IR. To fill the two spots, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from the practice squad.

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Injury Updates: Ansah, Lions, Sherman, 49ers, Michel, Patriots, Barr, Vikings

Ezekiel Ansah has missed almost the entire season with a mysterious shoulder injury. He played in the Lions’ opener against the Jets, and notched four tackles and a sack, but hasn’t played since. Detroit has been mum on what exactly is ailing Ansah, and he’s appeared close to returning a few times recently but has never suited up. He’s practice on a limited basis the past couple of weeks, but still hasn’t been ready.

This week might be different, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets that Ansah “did more in practice Friday than I’ve seen him in recent weeks.” It seems like Ansah is ramping up his activity and has a very good chance to return tomorrow against the Seahawks. Ansah, who’s playing on a franchise tag, would provide a big boost to a suddenly resurgent Lions defense.

Here’s more on some big injuries from around the league:

  • Richard Sherman appears on track to return for the 49ers tomorrow against the Cardinals after a two game absence, but might have to miss Week 9 because of it. Sherman told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s going to attempt to play through the injury, but might be too sore to play on short-rest in Week 9. The 49ers play on Thursday Night Football, and it doesn’t sound like Sherman thinks he’ll be able to play two games in four days.
  • The Patriots have been typically tight-lipped about Sony Michel‘s injury, but the recent word is that it isn’t too serious. That being said, Michel has been downgraded to doubtful for the team’s Monday night game against the Bills, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic (Twitter link). If it’s true that it’s relatively minor, Michel should be able to return in Week 9.
  • The Vikings’ defense has already been pretty banged up, and they got even more bad news recently. Linebacker Anthony Barr has been ruled out, which will end his streak of 44 consecutive games started for the Vikings, according to Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Vikings will be considerably short-handed for their game against the Saints, and Barr’s absence will surely be felt over the middle.

Injury Updates: Patriots, Colts, Lions, Redskins

The final injury reports for Week 7 came out earlier today, and there was a lot of news. Lots of key players will be missing their team’s games, while others will be returning after extended absence. One notable rule-out was the Patriots declaring that starting right tackle Marcus Cannon would miss their game against the Bears. It’s a big loss for New England, especially in a week where they have to go up against Khalil Mack. Mack will now be lining up across from a backup tackle, and could end up making life miserable for Tom Brady.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Colts have been the most injured team in recent memory the past few weeks, but are finally getting some good news. Star receiver T.Y. Hilton has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but is ready to make his return this week. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, they’ll still be without tight end Jack Doyle and receiver Ryan Grant as well as several key contributors on defense like safety Clayton Geathers and defensive tackle Denico Autry.
  • The Lions will be without running back Theo Riddick, who went down during the team’s win over the Packers. Riddick has been operating as the Lions’ third down back, and rookie Kerryon Johnson should get more run with him out of the way. On the bright side, the team looks like it could be getting back pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah, who hasn’t played since Detroit’s Week 1 loss. Ansah is listed as questionable but practiced all three days this week.
  • The Redskins will be thin on pass-catchers, as Jamison Crowder has been ruled out for the team’s game against the Cowboys while Paul Richardson is listed as doubtful. Washington promoted Jehu Chesson from the practice squad yesterday, signaling they weren’t expecting Richardson to play. Tight end Jordan Reed should see a ton of looks as the Redskins’ receiving corp is completely depleted.

For a rundown of every team’s injury situation, you can view all 32 injury reports over at ProFootballTalk.com.