Last offseason, Ezekiel Ansah was one of the top players headed for free agency until he was slapped with the franchise tag. This offseason, the 29-year-old has been sitting out there unsigned through two weeks of free agency. So, what gives?
His surgically repaired shoulder is what gives. Or, teams are worried it will. It has been a theory of mine the past couple weeks that we have heard nothing about Ansah or potential team interest because he is not quite fully ready to return. That doesn’t mean teams aren’t interested, it just means that their interest and therefore what they are offering in terms of a contract reflect their hesitance. For that reason it is wise for Ansah to wait until he is fully healthy before he holds workouts for any teams. That’s exactly what he is doing according to Ian Rapoport.
Why hasn’t pass-rusher Ziggy Ansah signed yet? His agent said teams wanted more info about his surgically repaired shoulder. The plan is to wait until his 4-month appointment in mid-April to help determine his readiness. After the initial FA push, there’s no rush to sign now.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 25, 2019
This was a prevailing theory because it’s rather common. Usually when a veteran player goes unsigned this long, it’s either an injury question or they are waiting for the right fit, whether it be a team in need of a starter or a team on which they think they can compete for a ring immediately.
Ansah’s checkup in mid-April could mean teams will be competing for his services at that time; just ahead of the draft. And the Raiders would be smart to be in on that.
No team in the league had a worse pass rush than the Raiders last season. Despite that need, they didn’t sign a single pass rusher in free agency. Going after Ansah ahead of the draft makes a lot of sense. Though whether they could afford him at this point is another story.
Based on the $12 million Justin Houston just got from the Colts, the Raiders would probably need to make a roster cut to clear up cap space (Seth Roberts?), but there is nothing more crucial to this team right now than pass rush and expecting the draft to cure all their woes in that area would be ambitious.