Melvin Ingram was given the franchise tag by the Chargers earlier this year, making him unavailable to other NFL teams. Or does it? Los Angeles (going to take some getting used to) put the non-exclusive tag on Ingram, leaving him still open to be signed by another team. The downside to this is any club signing the talented edge rusher would have to give up two first round picks. The Chargers would also have the right to match any offer and keep the player. In comparison, the Steelers put the exclusive tag on Le’Veon Bell. That eliminates any chance of another team making a substantial offer Pittsburgh would then be forced to match. It is possible the Chargers used the non-exclusive tag to gauge if there were any interest in trading for Ingram. One would think Pittsburgh would have a great deal of interest in a young and talented edge rusher.
There are several scenarios to consider here. First off, is Melvin Ingram worth two first round picks? That’s a tough call for the Steelers. This team is extremely close to getting to the Super Bowl with only one major weakness. It’s a weakness that is instantly solved by acquiring Ingram. He fits perfectly into Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker. Ben Roethlisberger’s threat of retirement only reinforces the urgency in which the team has to win another championship with him at quarterback. Can they really afford to wait for a 2017 first round pick to develop into an impact player? This is a deep draft for edge rushers, but everyone not named Myles Garrett comes with some considerable drawbacks.
The next question would be would the Chargers negotiate off the two first round picks. It doesn’t seem likely given they are assured that price no matter what. It would be at least worth trying, but at this point they may not even be willing to take the two picks and just choose to match any offer. Los Angeles does not appear to be in any cap trouble, in fact both teams seem to be almost identical in cap space. So making an offer the Chargers would struggle to match is off the table. There has to be at least a small amount of interest in moving Ingram though. Otherwise why not sign him to a long term deal, or at the very least put the exclusive franchise tag on him. This may be an opportunity the Steelers need to exploit. It’s time to go all in on the small window that’s left in the Roethlisberger era.