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Ansah to play 2018 season on franchise tag

Ziggy Ansah will play the 2018 season on Detroit's franchise tag.

The sixth-year defensive end and the Lions had until 4 p.m. Monday to get a long-term deal done or NFL rules required Ansah to play this season on the one-year franchise tag. No long-term deal was agreed upon ahead of today's deadline, which means Ansah will play the upcoming season on the franchise tag and be an unrestricted free agent again next offseason.

Ansah was one of four players still designated as franchise players Monday, joining Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner.

The Lions used the franchise tag on Ansah back in February to keep the talented pass rusher off the free agent market.

"That's something when we were going through the process, Matt (Patricia) got on board and Ziggy was the No. 1 conversation," Lions general manager Bob Quinn said earlier this offseason after deciding to use the team's franchise tag on Ansah. "What are we going to do with Ziggy? I had my thoughts. It didn't take long for me to show Matt why we should do what we did.

"To have an outside edge rusher that can be as dominant as Ziggy was something that was really appealing to Matt because Matt has had a lot of great players in New England and I think Ziggy would rank right up there with some of the best players that Matt has ever coached."

View photos of the defensive ends competing for roster spots entering training camp.

Ansah has recorded 44 sacks in five NFL seasons, the most by a Lions player in his first five seasons with the club. He's currently fifth on the franchise's all-time list.

He had 12 sacks last season, two years after posting a career-high 14.5 sacks while making the Pro Bowl in 2014. No player last season had more sacks than Ansah's eight over the second half of the season.

Ansah's also dealt with some nagging injuries the last couple seasons, and has missed five games over the last two years. He was limited during open OTA and minicamp practices this offseason.

"Ziggy's actually probably one of the first guys I met when I got here," Patricia said May during OTAs in May. "So, he's been great, really hard working, kind of just dialed in, focused. He's really into everything right now.

"He's really trying to learn at a high pace. Very professional, very much so trying to perfect his craft and what he does and learn to do some of the things that we're doing that may be a little bit different. But he's been great."

Ansah is expected to play a key role in Detroit's new-look defense. Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni will likely be very multiple in their looks, and a player as athletically gifted as Ansah can help with that.

"Obviously, I'm not going to be playing just one position," Ansah said this offseason. "I'll definitely be floating around."

The Lions and Ansah now have a season to see how he fits into the new scheme, and what kind of player he can be in this defense before heading into another offseason of uncertainty in 2019.

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