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DE Ezekiel Ansah signs franchise tag with Detroit Lions

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

DETROIT (AP) Ezekiel Ansah signed his franchise tag Tuesday, signaling his return to the Detroit Lions .

"That's a pretty big guy to have returning," Lions coach Matt Patricia said recently. "If he was out there in the free agent market with some other team right now that would be their front headline."

Detroit designated the defensive end from Ghana as its franchise player nearly two months ago.

"When we were going through the process and Matt got on board, Ziggy was the No. 1 conversation," Lions general manager Bob Quinn recalled last week. "So, what are we going to do with Ziggy? I had my thoughts. It didn't take long for me to show Matt why we should do what we did."

Ansah has 44 sacks in five seasons with the Lions. He had 12 sacks last season, bouncing back from an injury-filled 2016 season in which he had a career-low two sacks. He had three sacks in a game three times last season.

"To have an outside, edge rusher that can be as dominating as Ziggy is something that is really appealing to Matt," Quinn said.

"Matt has had a lot of great players in New England and Ziggy would rank right up there with some of the best edge players Matt has ever coached.

"We're really excited to get Ziggy into this new scheme."

Detroit drafted him No. 5 overall in 2013 out of BYU, where he was originally more interested in track and basketball than football. He has started 71 of 73 games, playing through injuries the past two years, and has 207 tackles.

Ansah was not made available to reporters Tuesday, but quarterback Matthew Stafford reflected on the coaching transition from Jim Caldwell to Patricia.

"Obviously, change happens in the NFL. It's almost inevitable," Stafford said. "I think the goal is to play well enough to not have those changes. Obviously, we didn't in the past."

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AP Sports Writer Noah Trister contributed to this report.

Updated April 17, 2018

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