After draft, Seahawks’ greatest need remains unaddressed
The Seahawks traded away their top pass rusher, defensive end Frank Clark, days ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft in exchange for picks. From that trade – and through a series of additional trades over the course of the draft – Seattle managed to turn what was a league-fewest four picks into 11 new rookies.
Seattle secured depth at wide receiver and linebacker, and added a several special teams contributors. The problem? None of those players fills the hole left by the trade of Clark, which remains the team’s greatest need. Following a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, though, it appears that Seattle could turn to the third wave of free agency for answers.
To that end, according to Schefter, former Lions pass rusher Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah paid a visit to Seattle Monday.
“Coming out of the draft, one thing they didn’t get was an edge rusher,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil said during Monday’s edition of Danny, Dave and Moore. “Which is a position that they very much need with Frank Clark being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. After they didn’t pick any, you looked at it and thought, ‘Well, if it’s not going to be the draft capital that replaces Clark, it’s going to be the $17 million that they’re not spending on him.’
“(This third wave of free agency will feature) the players who didn’t get deals that they wanted in the first two phases, or guys that are hurt, kind of coming on the market now as teams know what they will or won’t have available. And Seattle can now throw some money at the question of who’s going to rush the passer.”
Quick background on Ziggy Ansah
Ansah, 29, was a fifth-overall pick by the Lions in 2013 and has spent the entirety of his pro career with Detroit. Through six seasons, Ansah recorded 218 tackles, 110 quarterback hits, 48 sacks and 10 forced fumbles. The Lions franchise-tagged Ansah in February 2018, but the star defender only managed to start two games that season after suffering a Week 1 shoulder injury. He ultimately landed on the injured reserve in December.
Should (or, can) the Seahawks add Ansah?
The Seahawks gained $17 million back in cap room with their trade of Clark, so they have significantly more flexibility to add free agents. The question is what kind of deal those free agents might be interested in taking. Further, remaining free agents are on the market for a reason – either they’re older, coming off of an injury, or they’re looking for a big deal.
“Ansah is a guy who, in the beginning of his career, missed two games in three years,” O’Neil said. “But the last three he’s missed about 16 games. He has 48 career sacks and 10 forced fumbles, so he’s one of those guys coming off the edge. But I don’t know that he’s necessarily going to be your answer there. It’s just going to depend, always with the Seahawks and what they do in the offseason, how much they pay the guy. What does he want? I know they have cash now, but they don’t want to just go throw it at somebody like they did Luke Joeckel — and hey, he was called the best guard at that time, but it just didn’t work out.
“Here’s the value calculation that Ansah is going to have to make. There are other teams that are interested in him; he visited Buffalo. Do you take a multi-year deal, if you’re him? Would you take $20 million over three years? Or would you take a one-year contract at $5 or $6 million, and think, ‘I’m going to play my tail off and show I’m healthy, and then re-enter the free agent market next year.’ Because I think that’s the approach Seattle is going to take with all of these guys. It’s going to be a higher salary than we expect, and it’s going to be a one-year deal, maybe two years.”
One pass rusher probably won’t be enough
“I would try to sign two pass rushers,” O’Neil added. “If you’re going to sign Ziggy Ansah — and I think that’s a great option, he’s an incredibly athletic player and someone who has that top-tier pedigree who was franchise tagged a year ago — sell him on that idea that this is a great place to come and play. Look at Chris Clemons, look at what Frank Clark did. Guys that come here produce. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril came here on short-term deals and both of them ended up getting longer-term contracts. I would also want to leave enough there, even if you pay Ansah $8 or $9 million, to get a second guy. You want to get him and someone else to throw into the mix.”
Who are those names? They could include former Packers defensive end Nick Perry, or outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Shane Ray.
What about L.J. Collier?
The Seahawks did manage to add a defensive end with their first pick of the draft, selecting TCU’s L.J. Collier 29th overall. As a more traditional 5-technique, though, the 6-feet-2, 280-pound Collier will slide into a role far more similar to the one held by former Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.
“The only thing I would say is, look at the true edge rushers that Seattle has,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Dave Wyman said. “You know who they have here so far? Jacob Martin, Nate Orchard, and Cassius Marsh. They have six defensive ends, but Collier, Rasheem Green, and Brandon Jackson are not edge rushers. They’re guys that can get pressure and sacks. But Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier basically play the same position; they’re the strong side defensive end. They’re not a quick-twitch edge rusher.”
And Dion Jordan?
Jordan was a favorite to start at defensive end last season, but was ultimately hampered by injuries. He remains unsigned by Seattle, but O’Neil thinks there’s always a possibility the Seahawks bring him back on a cheaper deal.
“It’s still possible that he could come back. He played for $2 million last year. I think that he’s waiting around in this third phase of free agency, and I would bet that if he doesn’t get a bigger offer somewhere else, I don’t think Seattle would be against him coming back and playing. It would probably be for the league minimum, as opposed to that $2 million. But that’s another thing that is still very much in play.”