INDIANAPOLIS – Lions general manager Bob Quinn called placing the franchise tag on Ziggy Ansah an easy decision at the NFL Scouting Combine Wednesday.
The move keeps Ansah a Lion through 2018, though he and the team could agree to a longer-term deal by July 16 to keep him in town longer.
Quinn didn't comment on any long-term plans or negotiations with Ansah, but he did say lot of good things about his veteran edge rusher. Quinn expects Ansah to be a key component of the defense next season.
View photos from Detroit Lions executive vice president and general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia meeting the media at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.
"The thing about Ziggy that I think kind of really needs to be put out there, when you really watch the tape, like the offensive lines slide to him all the time," Quinn said. "So, you go back and watch this guy, there's two guys trying to block him more than half the plays.
"So, we talk about production, this production on paper, this stat line, his sacks, his hurries, all that stuff, that's great. But when I watch tape and coaches watch tape, is he doing his job? Is he occupying two blockers and Anthony Zettel's making a play, or Kerry Hyder or A'Shawn, or whoever? So, I think that's part of the stuff that when you really dive into it and watch it, I think he had a productive year."
From a statistical standpoint, Ansah led the Lions with 12 sacks this past season, despite missing two games due to injury and dealing with a nagging knee injury and other issues most of the season.
It wasn't until the end of the season that Ansah starting feeling better and playing his best football.
It was the second straight season Ansah dealt with injuries most of the year. The last time he was relatively healthy and played an entire 16-game season was in 2015, when he led the NFC with 14.5 sacks.
"Yeah, he's had some injuries, no question," Quinn said of Ansah's 2017 campaign. "But when you look over his career, he hasn't missed all that many games (seven in five years). One thing about Ziggy is he's extremely tough. When he can practice he practices, when he can play he plays. I have a great deal of respect for his work.
"All the behind the scenes things that you guys don't see, in terms of him trying to get his body right. Whether it was his ankles in 2016, to this year with the knee and a couple other things that popped up. He works extremely hard behind the scenes to get ready for Sundays. I have a great deal of respect for that."
New Lions head coach Matt Patricia also has a lot of respect for Ansah, and the kind of player he can be in the new defense he's building in Detroit. Ansah has primarily played the down defensive end in Detroit's 4-3 defense since he entered the league in 2013, but he's one of the more athletic edge rushers in the NFL. He's been moved around some in his time in Detroit and rushed the quarterback from a two-point stance as well.
Remember the play a couple seasons back when he chased then Vikings running back Adrian Peterson 50 yards down the field saving a touchdown? Ansah can do a lot of different things.
"I mean, Ziggy's an outstanding player," Patricia said. "Obviously, I had a chance to meet with him (Tuesday morning), so that was great. We're going to try to do everything we can to put him in great positions to be productive and help us win."