Circumstances weren’t necessarily ideal, but recently signed Seahawks defensive end Ezekiel Ansah understood why he remained unemployed into May.
Recovering from offseason shoulder surgery after an injury-plagued 2018 season, Ansah fully anticipated having a lukewarm market when the new league year opened on March 13.
Speaking with Brock and Salk in an interview on ESPN 710 on Wednesday, the former top-five draft pick out of BYU knew he’d eventually find the right landing spot to continue his football career. As other top-tier defensive ends earned lucrative contracts, the 2015 All-Pro selection would have to bide time for the right offer to come his way.
“I knew what it was and I knew I wouldn’t be picked early during free agency.” Ansah said. “I just had to exercise patience and I think it just happened at the right time.”
As it turned out, Ansah’s patience was finally rewarded when the pass rush-needy Seahawks came calling shortly after the conclusion of the 2019 NFL Draft. Though he left his free agent visit on April 29 without signing a contract, Seattle emerged as a front-runner for his services.
After taking some time to weigh his decision, Ansah couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for a “great organization.” With the compensatory pick deadline passed, he flew back to Seattle and signed a one-year deal on May 10.
“Seattle is known for their defense. I had to put a few things together, and I just thought it was a perfect fit for me.”
The Seahawks dealt away star pass rusher Frank Clark prior to the draft, shipping him to the Chiefs in exchange for a first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick. When healthy, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Ansah has been one of the NFL’s most productive pass rushers and should be able to fill the void if fully recovered from his operation.
Prior to missing all but seven games in 2018, Ansah posted at least 7.5 sacks in four of his previous five seasons with the Lions, including amassing a career-best 14.5 in 2015. Bouncing back from a sub-par 2016 campaign, he hit double digits again with 12.0 sacks in 2017 and registered 48.0 total sacks in six seasons.
Even while battling through his shoulder injury, Ansah proved to be disruptive when on the field last season. Pro Football Focus credited him with 20 quarterback pressures on just 101 pass rushing snaps, giving him the highest pressure percentage among qualified players in the entire league.
When asked about a possible timetable for his return, Ansah was non-committal about when he’d be back in action, but he plans to take his recovery one day at a time.
“I don’t have a timeline as of right now. I’m just waiting to see what the doctor is going to say, but until then, I’m putting in the work every day to get the body right.”
While it remains unknown when Ansah will be cleared to resume playing, he’s already started partaking in Seattle’s offseason program, a positive sign about his potential availability for Week 1.