Two prominent pass rushers — Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah of the Detroit Lions and DeMarcus Lawrence of the Dallas Cowboys — are expected to play under the franchise tag this season rather than sign long-term deals, according to a report from NFL Network.
Monday is the deadline for players who have received the franchise tag to sign a multi-year extension or fulfill their one-year commitment at a salary defined by the league’s franchise tag parameters. Several players including Ansah, Lawrence, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and Los Angeles Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner are set to become free agents next offseason if they do not sign before the deadline.
Ansah and Lawrence will bet on themselves and play under the one-year tag “barring a significant turn of events, per sources,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Saturday.
Both players — who signed their respective franchise tenders this spring — will make $17.1 million this season is no long-term deal is reached by Monday.
Ansah, the 29-year-old Ghana native, had 12.0 sacks in 14 games last season and has registered 44.0 career sacks in 73 games, all with the Lions. He has dealt with knee, back and ankle injuries over the years.
“We’re not going to get into talking about it with you guys,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn told reporters earlier this offseason when asked about Ansah’s contract status. “But we did talk to him, told him what our plan was, and he understands where we’re coming from. We understand where he’s coming from and we’re looking forward to having him on the team.”
Like Ansah, Lawrence could set himself up for a much larger payday heading into 2019 with a big season.
“I feel like they have given me the opportunity to really break the bank next year,” he told NFL Media earlier this offseason.
The 26-year-old enjoyed his best season a year ago, registering 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 16 games. In 48 career contests, the Boise State product has 23.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
For Pittsburgh, Bell’s decision before Monday’s deadline remains more of a mystery.
“There has been some progress, but it sounds like this one may come down to the wire — just like last year,” Rapoport tweeted. “It got close. Time will tell if they can push it over the line.”
Bell has yet to sign his franchise tender, and he didn’t do so until Sept. 4 last year, sitting out all of training camp before joining the team prior to Week 1. Waiting to sign his tender prevents the team from fining Bell for missing any mandatory practices, like mandatory minicamp in June and training camp in July and August.
Bell is set to make $14.54 million on the tag in 2018 if he does not reach a long-term deal with the Steelers.
—Field Level Media