The Seahawks used their first-round pick in last month’s draft to add help at defensive end, selecting TCU’s L.J. Collier. But two days after picking 10 additional players, none of them defensive ends, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider made it clear after the conclusion of the draft that they weren’t done addressing their team’s pass rush, having traded Frank Clark prior to the draft.
“We’re not done,” Carroll said. “We’ve got work to do.”
And this week, the Seahawks took a big step towards addressing their pass-rush, signing former first-round pick and 2015 Pro-Bowler Ezekiel Ansah. To make room on the 90-man roster, defensive end Nate Orchard was released.
“I’m super excited,” Ansah said after signing his contract. “This is a great team. The caliber of players who have been through here, they have a great coach out here, the environment, the organization, it’s just great. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Ansah, 29, spent his first six seasons with the Detroit Lions, who selected him with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Ansah has 48 career sacks, including 14.5 in 2015 when he was named a second-team All-Pro in addition to earning Pro-Bowl honors. He had 12 sacks in 14 games in 2017, but was limited to just seven games last year due to injury. While Ansah saw limited playing time in 2018, he was effective when he was healthy, recording 4.0 sacks in those seven games. Having missed so much time last season due to a shoulder injury, Ansah is eager to show a new team what he’s capable of.
“I am really motivated right now,” he said. “Not that I wasn’t motivated before, but I’m just super excited to be part of the Seahawks.”
Ansah, who is 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, was a late-comer to football, not taking up the sport until after he enrolled at BYU where he initially ran track. Born and raised in Accra, Ghana, Ansah grew up playing soccer, basketball and track and field, then he eventually joined the football team at BYU for the final three years of his college career.
Asked what Seahawks fans can expect to see from his game, Ansah said, “They’re going to see a vicious player. Somebody who has grown to love the game and who is going to give it all he’s got to make plays out there.”
Schneider has mentioned on a few occasions this offseason that the Seahawks were being cautious in free agency in part because they want to maximize their compensatory picks in 2020, and the timing of Ansah’s signing, which came after the deadline for free agents to count towards the compensatory formula, means this move won’t affect Seattle’s 2020 comp picks.
“We talk about those phases of free agency,” Schneider said after the draft. “There’s basically like three or four different phases, and we’re basically now heading into phase three.”
Orchard, a second-round pick in 2015, signed with Seattle last month after previously playing for Cleveland, Buffalo and Kansas City.