The Detroit Lions placed DE Ezekiel Ansah on the IR for lingering shoulder issues that he’s battled with throughout this season that has limited him to two starts and just seven appearances through 13 scheduled games. Ansah has never had major issues before this season with the least amount of games played in his five year career being 13 before this one.
After drafting Ansah with the fifth overall pick in 2013 and letting his rookie contract expire, the Lions used the franchise tag on the dominant defender this season at the cost of $17.1 million. After this season, as long as the Lions don’t do something so dumb as to franchise tag Ansah for a second consecutive season and costing them greatly, Ansah has worn the Honolulu Blue for the last time.
The Lions had a similar tactic the last time they had a high-profile defensive lineman potentially heading to the open market with Ndamukong Suh. The front office let him play out his rookie contract and franchise tagged him for $26.9 million. No, that was not a typo. You read the correctly. The Lions paid a defensive lineman nearly $27 million to play one season after the front office thought they had brilliantly restructured Suh’s contract in the previous seasons. WRONG.
Then, after vastly overpaying for a lineman just to go 7-9 in that season, something about it must have just felt right for the Lions front office because the EXACT same thing is happening now. Ansah is about to happily walk out of Detroit to greener pastures after securing a ginormous bag for playing half the season while the Lions finish below .500 in a season with extremely high expectations. Actually, I take that back. He’s not going to ‘happily walk out of Detroit.’ He’s going to skip out of town like he’s SpongeBob going to the Krusty Krab on a Monday morning (RIP Stephen Hillenburg).
It’s not like Ansah didn’t produce in his tenure with Detroit. These stats are actually strikingly superb.
It’s that the front office was once again unable to resign a coveted top five NFL draft pick and now established NFL Pro-Bowl defensive end after their rookie contract beyond using the franchise tag. And I don’t really consider myself an NFL expert (although I definitely am), but the NFL says that designated pass rusher is the second most important position in football next to the quarterback.
Again, I’m no expert but it seems pretty important to be able to maintain a sturdy defensive line if a team wants to achieve any type of success in the NFL. The Lions are a solid 12th in the NFL in total yards per game given up but sit at the bottom half of the league in terms of rushing yards given up per game.
You really hate to see anytime a player in any sport gets injured but how bad can you really feel for Ansah when he’s getting paid like a top five defensive player in the league and will likely garner a ridiculously high contract with the most guaranteed money ever. So it’s not really a loss for the Lions. The real loss is that the front office didn’t see this coming and try to trade Ansah before his rookie contract expired. We’ve seen this play ran too many times now for it to keep happening.
Now Ansah can sit back and relax with the rest of the Lions’ Pride and patiently wait for the season to end. That’s the life of a Lions fan. Just perpetually waiting for the next NFL draft. Sad.