Without a standout pass rusher at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft class, teams may opt for a known commodity in free agency. While there are plenty of options for teams to choose from, one particular player offers productivity and versatility at the position. With that in mind, where are some potential landing spots for Los Angeles Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram?
Melvin Ingram Landing Spots
Since being drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Ingram has been a precious asset to the Chargers. Although he suffered a significant loss of playing time over a two-year period early in his career due to injury, he has racked up 49 career sacks and 70 tackles for loss. His performances as a pass rusher have earned him multiple Pro Bowl appearances. Additionally, he has twice been voted by his peers as one of the Top 100 Players of the NFL.
However, relations between the Chargers pass rusher and the team soured a little prior to the 2020 season. Following the big-money deal handed out to Joey Bosa, the organization failed to provide a contract extension to Ingram. As a result, he threatened to hold out of games. Ultimately, his season would be impacted by injury far more than any potential holdout. For the first time in his career, he didn’t register a sack last season.
Having played outside linebacker and defensive end, his versatility will still make him valuable. Which teams could prove to be productive landing spots for Melvin Ingram?
Melvin Ingram to pass rush behind enemy lines in the AFC West?
What better way to prove your value to your former franchise than by forcing them to face you twice a year? The Las Vegas Raiders make an obvious landing spot for Melvin Ingram. They’re a team in desperate need of pass-rush help and the former Chargers pass rusher would provide just that.
The Raiders invested in Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby just two years ago in the NFL Draft. Although Crosby has impressed, Ferrell has been widely regarded as a bust. It may be too early to label him as such, but it serves as a timely reminder that there is no such thing as a “sure thing” in the draft.
Ingram could serve a dual purpose in Las Vegas. He brings pass-rush productivity on the field but could serve as a mentor to the two young pass rushers on the roster. Throw in the fact that his former Chargers coach Gus Bradley is the defensive coordinator for the Raiders, and Las Vegas serves as the prime landing spot for Melvin Ingram.
Would Melvin Ingram provide new pass-rush potential for the New York Giants?
Another franchise with a clear need to improve its pass-rush production is the New York Giants. Long associated with addressing the position in the 2021 NFL Draft, Tony Pauline intimated that they will actually strike in free agency less than two weeks ago.
The name mentioned then was Baltimore Ravens pass rusher Matthew Judon. However, with the Giants in a salary cap pickle, they could potentially be a landing spot for Melvin Ingram instead. At present, Spotrac estimates Judon as having a market value of $15.6 million. Meanwhile, as demonstrated below, Ingram has a market value around $4 million cheaper.
Could Melvin Ingram change the Chargers for the Colts in free agency?
Another team in the market for pass-rush help — and therefore a landing spot for Melvin Ingram — is the Indianapolis Colts. In my latest mock draft for Pro Football Network, the Colts selected Penn State pass rusher Jayson Oweh in the second round. However, that shouldn’t stop them from adding further pieces in free agency.
At present, they are set to lose both Justin Houston and Denico Autry, who are unrestricted free agents. The pair combined for 15.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in 2020. It’s a significant chunk of their defensive production to lose. The Colts are in a good position from a financial perspective — per Spotrac, they have nearly $40 million in cap space. They would be comfortably able to afford Ingram’s contract if his market value is truly as described below.
What is Melvin Ingram’s market value in free agency?
In 2017, Ingram signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. Accounting for guaranteed money plus various signing and roster bonuses, it averaged out at $16 million per year. As he hits free agency, Melvin Ingram isn’t going to command that sort of money from the above potential landing spots.
According to Spotrac, his current market value is around $11.4 million per year. They ascertain market value by averaging the contracts of players with similar production and age. For Ingram, players such as Preston Smith and Whitney Mercilus are the benchmark.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.