By: Will Burchfield
In theory, this could be Ziggy Ansah’s final season in Detroit.
He is entering the final year of his rookie contract and free agency beckons in 2018.
“I don’t pay attention to that at all,” Ansah said on Tuesday. “I know I’m still under contract, I’ll be here in 2017. Like I said, the focus for this year is to win a championship, first try to get into the playoffs. (The contract) is what it is, but the goal is to win a championship.”
The Lions are believed to be working on an extension for Ansah, who had 14.5 sacks and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2015. Ansah declined comment on the situation on Tuesday, although he did say he plans to ask former Lion Ndamukong Suh for advice.
Suh left the Lions in 2015 to join the Dolphins, who made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
“I haven’t talked to him about it yet but I will,” Ansah said.
“Obviously, he’s my boy. I wish he would have stayed but I don’t control that,” he added. “I’m sure he’s happy where he’s at.”
Suh turned down $17 million per year from Detroit in favor of $19 million per year from Miami. The Lions could have retained him by using the franchise tag, but the $26.9 million cost was simply too high. It’s far less likely that will happen with Ansah. The franchise tag number for defensive ends in 2017 was $16.934 million.
Ansah, a native of Ghana, seems to be more and more at home in Detroit. He is frequently seen at local sporting events and appreciates the love he gets when spotted in public.
“I like this city, I like the fans. I do what I do for the fans, not just for myself. They come out of their homes and they come and support us. We have great fans and they do really embrace me when I go out, which is fun. But at the end of the day I also gotta do my part and help my team win,” said Ansah.
The 27-year-old is coming off a disappointing season in which he recorded just two sacks, due largely to a high ankle sprain that hindered him for much of the year.
“It wasn’t easy, doing what I was doing. But I know that there’s always a time in life where you go through obstacles and it kind of teaches a person how to be a man, how you’re going to deal with it,” he said. “I’m glad 2016 is over, I’m just looking forward to 2017.”
Ansah declined to declare an exact goal in terms of sacks this season, but said he is aiming to get into double digits. When he was home in Ghana earlier this offseason, both his father and his brother provided motivation.
“My pops is never happy with anything, he always tries to make me do better than what I already did,” Ansah said with a smile. He’s like, ‘You could have.’ And that’s the mindset that I’m coming in with this year…The one thing that my brother told me was come into this year like you have nothing.”