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Who do the Chargers pay again in 2021 – Keenan Allen or Melvin Ingram?

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 25: Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates his touchdown in the second quarter to take a 14-10 lead against the Arizona Cardinals at StubHub Center on November 25, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 25: Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates his touchdown in the second quarter to take a 14-10 lead against the Arizona Cardinals at StubHub Center on November 25, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Chargers have several tough decisions to make in 2021. Do they give both Keenan Allen and Melvin Ingram third contracts?

In 2021, many of the top players for the Chargers will be unrestricted free agents. Two very important, impactful Chargers – Allen and Ingram, will have just completed their second contracts with the team. But with Joey Bosa and Desmond King both becoming unrestricted free agents in 2021 as well, the Chargers will have some tough decisions to make.

Unfortunately, the Chargers may not be able to retain both Allen and Ingram for their third contracts. That being said, let’s look at both players for what they have been, what they are, and what they could be in 2021.

Allen will be 29 years old when his current contract is up in 2021. He had a healthy 2018 season and hopefully, his injury history will remain behind him. During his time with the Chargers, Allen has battled through a torn ACL (2016), a lacerated kidney (2015), and a broken clavicle (2014).

When healthy though, Allen is consistently a top 10 receiver and according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he was the sixth highest graded receiver in the NFL last season (ahead of wide receivers Tyreek Hill and JuJu Smith-Schuster).

The connection Allen possesses with Philip Rivers is unique and a joy to watch. When those two get into a rhythm, there aren’t many defenses in the NFL that can stop them. Allen is one of the best route runners in the NFL and because he doesn’t rely solely on speed for his dominance, his game may have a longer shelf life further into his thirties than that of a pure burner.

Ingram, on the other hand, is a physical freak. He possesses size, speed, power, and brute strength. He doesn’t quite notch the same number of sacks you’d hope for on the stat sheet, but his impact is definitely felt on game days. While he was rated the 27th best edge defender in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, he still garners double-teams and extra attention from offensive coordinators trying to avoid him.

On the downside, Ingram is a bit longer in the tooth than Allen, as he will be 32 years old when his contract is up in 2021. However, he is a physical specimen and besides a hip injury in 2014 and an ACL tear in 2013, Ingram has played in all 16 games in four straight seasons.

Financially, Allen is 16th at the wide receiver position with an average annual salary for his current contract at $11.25 million. For a top 10 wide receiver, Allen is a bit of a bargain for the Chargers at his current price tag.

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Ingram, on the other hand, is 12th at his position with an average annual salary for his current contract at a hefty $16 million. While his play is definitely impactful, the Chargers may struggle to justify paying him top 12 money for a 27th rated edge defender.

With both position group price tags beginning to skyrocket, the Chargers will have some tough decisions to make prior to the 2021 offseason.

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