Los Angeles Chargers DE Melvin Ingram has been skipping voluntary workouts. Will he miss mandatory minicamp as well?
The Chargers appear to be in a bit of a dilemma with one of their players.
Defensive end Melvin Ingram was given the franchise tag prior to the start of 2017 free agency. Ingram’s absence at organized team activities suggests that he is looking for a long-term contract.
According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, Ingram could skip mandatory minicamp and possibly the beginning of training camp should the Chargers not offer him a deal. Ingram and Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell are the only two players who have yet to sign their franchise tags. July 15 is the deadline to get an extension done; if no offer is on the table and Ingram signs his tag, he will make $14.6 million in 2017.
Rapoport noted that Ingram could want a deal similar to that of Cardinals DE Chandler Jones/Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Both defenders are making $15.5-16.5 million per year. DE Oliver Vernon set the bar last year when he signed a five-year, $85 million contract ($40 million guaranteed) with the New York Giants. According to OverTheCap.com, Vernon and Pierre-Paul are the first- and second-highest paid 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL; Jones, listed as a 3-4 OLB, is the third-highest paid player at his respective position.
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
After a sluggish start to his career, Ingram, a 2012 first-round pick (No. 18 overall), stepped up his game over the past two seasons, finishing with 18.5 sacks, including double-digit sacks in 2015. Not only does he have solid production (one of only two players to have 50-plus tackles and eight-plus sacks over the last two years, as noted by Rapoport), Ingram’s versatility to rush standing up or play with his hand in the dirt, as well as cover the pass, at times, is enticing, too.
The question is, is Ingram worth elite money?
Like we mentioned above, Ingram has played extremely well over the past two years, as he was Pro Football Focus’ sixth-ranked and 18th-ranked overall edge defender in 2016 and 2015, respectively. He finished with 72 total QB pressures last season, per PFF.
Unfortunately, Ingram was inconsistent and injured prior to that (missed 19 games from 2013-14). And despite having very good back-to-back seasons, he still struggles to finish. Sacks aren’t everything, but they are important when you’re trying to get off the field on crucial third downs.
More importantly, will Ingram be comfortable in a new scheme after playing outside linebacker for five straight years? He is projected to switch to defensive end (the Leo position) in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s 4-3 scheme.
Also, two defensive players the Chargers previously extended, ex-Chargers ILB Donald Butler and current Chargers DT Corey Liuget, have underperformed after signing their respective big deals. Will Ingram follow that trend?
In my opinion, Ingram is a very good player, but he’s not elite–yet. Having 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa next to him definitely makes him–and Bosa for that matter–better. He’s only 28 years old and in his prime, but I think signing him to a long-term deal only makes sense if the Chargers don’t completely break–nay destroy–the bank to bring him back.
But the fact that the Chargers didn’t draft an edge rusher this year tells me one thing: They definitely believe Ingram will suit up one way or another.