Nov 27, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) is hit by San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (54) on a play during the first quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
1. Melvin Ingram (UFA): The 2012 first-round pick finally learned how to stay healthy over the last two seasons. In 2015, Ingram played in all 16 games for the first time as a pro and finished with a career-high 10.5 sacks. He also played in every game in 2016, racking up eight sacks and forcing a career-high four fumbles. Ingram has been quite consistent in terms of production. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished as the No. 6 overall edge defender with an 88.1 overall grade in 2016 and ranked 18th (84.2 overall grade) at his position last season.
“The 27-year-old has quietly become the best edge-rusher in the NFL casual fans aren’t aware of, piling up 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons.” – Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report
Ingram may never put up elite sack statistics, but it’s not always about the numbers. For example, Colts OLB Erik Walden, who is also a free agent, finished with a career-high 11 sacks in 2016, three more than what Ingram had. That said, Ingram finished with a pass-rush grade of +84.9 while Walden finished with a pass-rush grade of +49.4, per PFF.
We know Ingram can rush the passer. He also does a good job in defending the run and dropping into coverage every now and then. Despite all the pros, Ingram still struggles to finish. We’ve seen so many times where Ingram is there to wrap up the quarterback but fails to do so, which has led to back-breaking third-down completions. He’s the king of the “almost sack.” He also disappears for stretches. Because of all of that, he’s not an elite game-changing player like Von Miller.
Overall, Ingram does bring this defense to another level when on the field. He’s an impact player who is in his prime at 27 years old and pairs well with 2016 first-rounder Joey Bosa. With a division full of multiple dominant pass-rushers, the Chargers can’t afford to lose Ingram, especially when there is nobody else on the roster that could replace him. *Franchise tag if no long-term deal gets done