You have no idea how long I’ve been holding onto that Spice Girls reference …
So, here’s the good news: the Seahawks had a need and they helped fill that need with Ezekiel Ansah. Even before the Frank Clark trade, pass rush was a major concern for this team. Maybe the BIGGEST concern. With Clark’s contract situation being untenable, our options were to max out our cap space and do nothing to supplement around him, or get rid of him and hopefully improve our pass rush on the cheap. We chose the second route, and now here we are.
In the run-up to May 7th (after which the league was allowed to sign free agents without any risk to losing next year’s comp picks), the Seahawks brought in Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard, a couple of veterans who’ve bounced around the league for 6 and 4 years respectively, and to date haven’t really made much of an impact outside of special teams. Marsh’s season high is 5.5 sacks; and Orchard (who you might remember got cut on Hard Knocks with last year’s Browns team) has a season high of only 3 sacks. L.J. Collier was our first player selected in this year’s draft, which makes him a total unknown. We paired those guys with holdovers Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green – a couple of promising players from last year’s rookie class, but who also have a lot to prove – and veterans Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson – who are more depth options and not really even guaranteed to have roster spots this year.
Obviously, that wasn’t going to do. There are a number of free agent options still available, and the Seahawks brought in probably the best (or at least the one with the highest upside). Ziggy Ansah is a tremendous talent! He’s a beast! At his best, he’s even BETTER than Frank Clark!
Now, the bad news: every time we talk about Ansah, we have to throw in the phrase, “When He’s Healthy.”
Ziggy Ansah When He’s Healthy is one of the best defensive ends in all of football. But, it’s not even a matter of him missing games (which he has, 14 in the last three seasons), so much as him being a shell of his usual dominant self when he’s playing through injuries. How else do you explain 2.0 sacks in 2016 when he appeared in 13 games? That followed a Pro Bowl 2015 season when he had 14.5.
He’s coming off of a shoulder injury at the moment that really slaughtered his Franchise Tag year in 2018. And, what’s worse, if reports are to be believed, this injury could keep him out through Training Camp and even a month into the regular season!
I really had no idea this was a thing before I read about it this morning. Heading into yesterday, Ansah was a no-brainer to me. OF COURSE you sign the injury risk who – if things break right – could be a stud for this defense in 2019! And, on paper, I like the contract: $5.5 million guaranteed, with $8 million more in incentives; really the ideal deal for all parties involved. If he reaches his incentives, then GREAT, the Seahawks still got a Pro Bowl-calibre player for a song; if he hardly plays, then we’re only out $5.5 million and relatively little harm done.
But, if we’re talking about a guy who might not give you more than 12 games – and that’s assuming he returns hitting the ground running, and doesn’t suffer any setbacks during even a brutal 3/4 of a season – then I’m much less hopeful. Don’t get me wrong, I would still do this deal, because even if we just have him for the back-half of the season, he’s still someone this team needs (and could be a monster for a playoff run). But, I’m more convinced than ever that the Seahawks need to add maybe another 1-2 more pass rushers on top of him.
Or else, Martin and Green better take HUGE steps forward in their progress in Year 2.
All in all, a happy day, but not the happiest of days. I really hope those reports are exaggerated, and Ansah’s injury isn’t as bad as some fear.