Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
Reports indicate that the Seattle Seahawks will sign former Detroit Lions DE Ziggy Ansah to a one-year deal later today. Many experts anticipated the Jets would show interest in signing the former top-five pick, but that never materialized. With the Jets' lack of depth at the edge rusher positions, that's perhaps surprising.
Could they be missing a trick here?
When healthy, Ansah has usually been a productive pass rusher. Just two seasons ago, he racked up 12 sacks, having had a career-high 14.5 sacks in 2015. The Jets' sack leaders last year - Henry Anderson and Jordan Jenkins - had seven sacks each, so a pass rusher with the capability to generate that kind of production could make a huge difference.
So why the apparent lack of interest from the pass rush-starved Jets? The main reason is because when he's not healthy, Ansah doesn't contribute much. Unfortunately for the veteran, he's been hurt more and more often in recent times.
While Ansah only missed seven games in his first five seasons, his durability was first an issue in 2016. He only missed three games with an ankle injury, but was banged up all year and ended up with a career-low two sacks. While he bounced back nicely in 2017, Ansah missed a total of nine games with a shoulder problem last season and even when he did play, he was limited to a situational role. However, he was able to register four sacks in seven games.
That kind of production extrapolated over a 16-game season should be enticing for a team like the Jets, but the chances of him being healthy for 16 games are already looking extremely remote because recent reports indicate Ansah could miss the first month of the season, as he continues to recover from offseason surgery on that ailing shoulder.
For a team like the Seahawks, a one-year gamble on a player like Ansah makes sense. They've got a system in place and need a veteran replacement for Frank Clark, who they recently traded to the Chiefs in a blockbuster deal. Ansah will earn much less than they'd have had to pay Clark and, while they drafted LJ Collier out of TCU, Ansah will provide useful short-term depth, as Seattle tries to extend their window of contention with Russell Wilson recently inked to a long-term deal.
For the Jets, such a deal makes less sense. They are building for the longer-term and trying to establish a young core. Ansah's deal is reportedly worth up to $12.75 million, which would represent over half of the Jets' current cap space, taking away flexibility should they want to bring in another difference-maker before the season, or at the trade deadline.
It's not impossible Ansah could re-establish himself as one of the league's top pass rushers once he's recovered from his shoulder surgery. After all, he's still in his twenties, albeit only for a few more weeks. However, at that price and with so much risk attached, it would probably be a reckless move at this point in the rebuilding process.
In fact, even if they signed him to a similar deal and he had a good season, they'd be forced to choose between giving him a much bigger salary to retain him into his thirties, or letting him go and then being back to square one.
So where does this leave the Jets as they proceed into their offseason program without a big-money addition on the edge? They will probably head into camp with Jenkins and Brandon Copeland as the incumbent starters. The pair combined for 12 sacks last year, but will hardly keep offensive coordinators up at night. Rookie Jachai Polite is expected to provide a boost though, and has a realistic shot at being in a major role as a pass rusher in sub-packages.
Behind those three, the promising Frankie Luvu is the only player from last year's roster who saw significant time. However, the team may also be high on some of the youngsters that will compete with him for a role.
In addition, with so much defensive line talent following the Quinnen Williams pick and re-signing of Anderson, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is sure to employ some four-man fronts and sub-packages, which utilize players from those groups on the edge. In a situation like this, adding a player like Ansah might only block some younger players from perhaps developing into cheap contributors.
The Jets will still be alert to any pass rushers who become available between now and the deadline. However, as far as Ansah is concerned, the risk was too high and the Jets obviously didn't view him as a viable solution at that price.