The NY Giants need pass-rush help in a big way and they will need to get creative to make it happen. Taking a look at Ziggy Ansah in free agency could make some sense.
Not too long ago, Ezekiel ‘Ziggy’ Ansah was thought of as one of the premier pass-rushers in the NFL after putting together two huge years with the Detroit Lions. A boom-or-bust prospect out of BYU when he came out in 2013, Ansah was both during his time with the Lions. With the NY Giants unlikely to come away with a top pass-rusher in free agency, Ansah’s situation deserves monitoring.
I know, I know – my two main mantras heading into free agency have been no Ex-Patriots and no guys on the wrong side of 30. However, Ansah is 30 on the nose (will be 31 next season, though), didn’t even start playing football until the age of 21, and didn’t come into the NFL until he was 24.
The freak of nature defensive end played just one full season at BYU in 2013 after taking up the sport during his Sophomore year, and although he racked up just 4.5 sacks in that campaign, teams were enamored.
His sheer size and athleticism are startling at first glance, and it’s fair to wonder if he’s still got another gear left should he be able to stay healthy in 2020. Ansah has seen many highs and lows during his NFL career. After starting off with a bang, racking up 8, 7.5 and then a staggering 14.5 sacks in his third year, the wheels began to come off a bit when he only tallied 2 sacks over 13 starts as a 27-year-old in 2016.
Playing under his rookie fifth-year option in 2017, ‘Ziggy’ exploded once again to the tune of 12 sacks, 15 TFL, and 17 QB hits. Still, with all the injuries he accumulated with Detroit, they were apprehensive about giving him a big deal and chose to wait another year by franchising him.
After injuries plagued him once again in 2018, the Lions finally moved on from the tantalizing former top-five draft pick. Injuries will be the main reason for teams giving Ansah pause this year on the open market, as he has suffered shoulder, back, knee, ankle, biceps and now even a neck injury last year with Seattle. So, even though he’s short on football mileage, he’s long on being banged up.
The Seahawks wisely signed the former BYU Cougar to a one-year, $9 million dollar contract in 2019 looking to capture lightning in a bottle. The end result was all too common for Ziggy, as even though he played in 11 games, ankle and neck injuries plagued him and rendered him ineffective.
At times, he was still a solid rotational piece and was asked to – and successfully did – many things he hadn’t done so often in Detroit – like drop back into pass coverage. By all accounts, he was respected by his teammates and coaches and did more than his numbers would indicate. Still, just 2.5 sacks, 3 TFL, and 3 QB hits isn’t going to get Ansah paid like he wants to be this offseason.
That’s where the NY Giants should come in. With just Lorenzo Carter (who I actually think can play inside) and O’Shane Ximines set on the roster as edge-rushing options, Big Blue could do a lot worse. Ansah is a super athlete – almost making the BYU basketball squad – and should have no problem being asked to hang on in coverage for a few seconds in a 3/4 scheme.
He’s not going to cost an arm and a leg, and this move has the potential to be Markus Golden on steroids. Normally, I’d like to only entertain a one-year contract on a player like this. However, since Ansah has shown he can be an All-Pro, Big Blue could come away with a robbery here if they become one of the only teams to offer more than one year.
To attract Ansah to take a longer-term, lighter APY contract, the Giants could go light on guarantees, medium on the per-year amount, and heavy on incentives. If Ziggy reaches those incentives, terrific. We’ve seen this type of situation work out well for a similar 30-year-old player coming off of an injury with Richard Sherman in Seattle.
NY Giants fans need to brace themselves for the real possibility of striking out in free agency – particularly in the pass-rush department – as there are only so many elite players to go around.
Players like Ansah and other creative options need to be on Dave Gettleman’s radar.
Potential Offer: 3 years, $26M ($8M GTD, up to 32 with $2M Pro Bowl incentives)