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By Blake Froling
Detroit Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah will not be getting a long-term deal before the deadline today at 4 p.m. ET, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Ansah will play the 2018 season on the franchise tag, which will pay him a guaranteed $17.1 million.
Ansah, 29, finished last season with 12 sacks but was still plagued by inconsistency. He had three sacks against the Giants in Week 2, then went the next 10 games with a total of three sacks, then racked up six sacks in the final two games of the season against the Bengals and Packers.
Injuries have also been a major concern during Ansah’s career. He missed almost all of training camp and preseason last year with knee and back injuries and they persisted throughout the regular season. In 2016, Ansah was limited by a high ankle sprain for the majority of the season and only recorded two sacks.
2015 was Ansah’s best season by far, his third year in the league. He generated 14.5 sacks and earned second team All-Pro honors and a trip to the Pro Bowl.
The Lions aren’t sure if Ansah can stay healthy enough over the course of a long-term contract to warrant extending him. Ansah believes he’s one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL and deserves to be paid like one. That’s why a deal couldn’t be done. Ansah and the team cannot negotiate a new deal until after the season ends once they pass the 4 p.m. deadline.
The Lions also have to look at their cap situation as a whole when evaluating the offer they might make to Ansah. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has a $26.5 million cap hit and the team invested heavily in the offensive line last offseason. Wide receiver Golden Tate is due for a contract extension as well, and he’s been one of the most productive wideouts in the NFL since he signed with the Lions in 2014.
If Ansah can stay healthy and be a consistent force on the edge, then the Lions will be happy to pay him top dollar. But he has to prove it first.