Only a few days after the compensatory pick deadline expired, the Seahawks backed up coach Pete Carroll’s promise to bolster their pass rush by signing the best remaining free agent on the market.
Two days after his pending signing was originally reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, veteran defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has officially signed the dotted line, agreeing to terms with Seattle on a one-year contract.
To make room for Ansah on the 90-man roster, Seattle released defensive end Nate Orchard.
Though reports about financial compensation have been conflicting to this point, Rapoport indicated Ansah would receive a $9 million base salary and could max out at $13 million based on incentives.
Ansah, 29, has been one of the NFL’s most productive pass rushers when healthy since breaking into the league as a first round pick with the Lions in 2013. In six seasons, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound defender has produced over 200 combined tackles, 48.0 sacks, and 110 quarterback hits.
His finest season came in 2015, when Ansah yielded a career-best 14.5 sacks and garnered Second-Team All-Pro honors. He also hit double digit sacks during the 2017 season, leading Detroit with 12.0 sacks, and has registered at least 7.5 sacks four times in his career.
Based on his prior production, the Lions applied the franchise tag on Ansah to prevent him from leaving in free agency, paying him a fully-guaranteed $17.143 million for the 2018 season.
Unfortunately, Ansah battled shoulder problems throughout the season, missing all but seven games. He underwent offseason surgery after landing on season-ending injured reserve in December, which led to far less interest than expected on the free agent market.
Following positive updates on his recovery, interest in Ansah started to heat up in recent weeks. The Seahawks brought him in for a visit on April 29 and with their four compensatory picks for 2020 no longer at risk, they pounced on the opportunity to sign him as a replacement for Frank Clark, who was dealt to the Chiefs shortly before the draft last month.
Ansah still has some work left to do before he’s ready to return, as some reports have speculated he could miss time to start the regular season continuing to recover from surgery. But based on how quickly they moved to sign him, the Seahawks have to be confident he’ll be fully recovered in time to be in the starting lineup for Week 1 against the Bengals.
After making their flashiest signing of the offseason, Seattle will be counting on Ansah to return to his dominant form from two seasons ago to help fill the void left behind by Clark’s departure and add bite to their pass rush as they seek a second consecutive playoff berth.