The Seattle Seahawks are going to do the expected, signing defensive end Ezekiel Ansah on to a 1-year deal, per Ian Rapoport. Ansah will reportedly fly to Seattle to sign his contract on Thursday. The Seahawks have a lot of competition at the starting defensive end positions still following the trade of Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs and Ansah figures to be an immediate starter. That is if he’s healthy, which is the constant concern with Ansah.
The fifth overall pick in 2013, Ansah recorded 15.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the Detroit Lions, then 14.5 in year three alone. But 2015 proved to be Ansah’s only Pro Bowl season, suffering injuries that held him out of 14 games over the last three seasons plus a whole lot of time on the field where he was at far less than 100%. The Lions gave Ansah the franchise tag in 2018 because he was coming off of a 12-sack season but clearly unwilling to commit long-term based on his injury history and that looks like the correct decision so far. Ansah missed nine games last year, recording four sacks in seven games.
He had the highest pass rush productivity in 2018 according to ProFootballFocus, but in a sample size that small, it’s not that much different than saying Dion Jordan was one of the most efficient pass rushers in 2017. Ansah has a much better resume than Jordan, to the point of them not even being comparable historically, but lined up side by side today you still have two very oft-injured pass rushers who were drafted high, have a lot of physical gifts that few humans have, and may have a hard time contributing significantly at any point in the future.
However, Seattle has a lot of cap space following the Clark trade and some upcoming cap casualties, and very little in the way of proven edge players. Cassius Marsh is now the most experienced of the group, followed by Quinton Jefferson and Nate Orchard. Then it’s 2018 rookies Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green and current rookie L.J. Collier, plus Branden Jackson. Ansah immediately steps to the front of the line and should start barring injury or exceptional training camp performances by Green, Collier, Martin, or someone else.
They had the money to do it and the need and will lose no comp picks since the deadline for that passed on 1 PM PT on Tuesday, so it makes a lot of sense to take the risk.