Melvin Ingram is the most polarizing player that has played for the Chargers the last 5 years. There is the good, where he has generated 18.5 sacks, 24 tackles for a loss, and 7 forced fumbles over the last 2 seasons. On the other end of the argument, he has only had one season of double digit sacks, constantly misses sacks, and doesn’t finish plays. So it is clear to see why fans either love him or hate him. I myself, have stated my public support on why Tom Telesco needs to re-sign Ingram to a long term deal. That was of course before the latest rumor of Ingram’s latest contract demands.
Colts could be a possible landing spot for LB Melvin Ingram. Ingram is reportedly asking for Olivier Vernon money (5 yers, $85M)— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) February 19, 2017
If this rumor, is in fact true, I find it hard to believe that the Los Angeles Chargers entertain the absurdity of Ingram’s demand, and will be forced to part ways with him. Tom Telesco will have to replace Ingram’s production and could do so in numerous ways.
The Chargers could look to free agency to obtain a stop gap solution that would provide an immediate impact. Adding a veteran could also provide some much needed veteran leadership to a young defense. The free agent market is pretty bare now, but that doesn’t mean teams will cut some players for cap relief late on. Tom Telesco usually finds one veteran gem in free agency every year. Here are some gems that Telesco could kick the tires on.
The Arizona Cardinals’ primary concern this off season will be to retain Chandler Jones. Jones, like Ingram, will come with a hefty price tag and the Cardinals might be forced to make some difficult decisions. Campbell is a free agent this year and will be 31 when the season starts.
If Arizona lets Campbell test the free agent waters; it would be smart for the Chargers to pursue the 2x Pro Bowler. Over the last 4 yeas, Campbell has amassed 29 sacks and 58 tackles for a loss. Simply put, he has been a one man wrecking crew. Campbell would fit perfectly in Gus Bradley’s 4-3 defense, as he implements a 3 big bodied penetrating defensive line, with the pass rusher at the Leo position (Joey Bosa). Campbell won’t come cheap, but he certainly will be a cheaper option than a Melvin Ingram franchise tag or long term deal.
Even though Hali, is not a free agent, like Campbell, Hali could be a salary cap causality as the Kansas City Chiefs attempt to re-sign Eric Berry and Dontari Poe. Hali’s best days as a pass rusher are clearly behind him, but he would provide the Chargers with a good situational pass rush. Also, Hali would be a decent stop gap solution as Los Angeles attempts to groom their next up and coming edge rusher.
Between his weaning production (16 sacks in 3 years) and his advance age (33 years old); Tamba’s price tag should be right in the wheel house of Tom Telesco. This move would be reminiscent of the time the Chargers signed Dwight Freeney to help give their defense some extra pass rushing juice.
OTHER OPTIONS: DEMARCUS WARE, CONNOR BARWIN
Los Angeles could choose to avoid other teams’ cast offs, and instead look to a loaded edge rusher draft to find Ingram’s replacement. If they do, they would have plenty of prospects to choose from in each round.
At 6’6”, 276 lbs. Malik McDowell is the perfect combination of size and athleticism. McDowell can beat an offensive lineman with his explosive first step, or his brute strength. He is extremely raw, but has an adequate pass rushing repertoire (solid bull rush and club/swim move). The two time, second team All Big Ten player had a stellar sophomore year (4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss) but saw a dip in production this year, due to an ankle injury and the regression of his other defensive teammates.
For those who would clamor for Calais Campbell; Malik McDowell would be the next best thing for the Chargers. He would be that big bodied 4-3 defensive end that would fit perfectly in Bradley’s defense. The only question is, when would Los Angeles draft him? The seventh overall pick appears to much of a reach for a player that has concerns such as character issues, inconsistent technique, and work ethic questions. But then again, he might not be there in round 2 either.
Los Angeles could go a different way to replace Ingram and select Alabama’s Tim Williams in this years draft. As a pass rushing specialist, Williams had 19.5 sacks the last 2 years for the Crimson Tide. Unlike McDowell, Williams has a wide arsenal of pass rushing moves. Depending on how Bradley deploys Joey Bosa; Williams could be valuable at the LEO position, or a pass rushing SAM linebacker specialist.
Williams is a round one talent that will most likely slide into round 2 because of his off the field concerns. During his career at Alabama, Williams failed multiple drug tests and was arrested on a misdemeanor gun charge. Selecting Williams would be a gamble for Los Angeles, because they cannot be sure if they are getting a player who will turn it around (like Warren Sapp) or someone who keeps on falling to bad habits (like Randy Gregory). However, if the Chargers are fortunate to land Williams in the second round; that means they would have been able to address another need (like safety or offensive line) with the 7th overall pick.
OTHER OPTIONS: SOLOMON THOMAS, CARL LAWSON
At the moment, the Los Angeles Chargers currently do not have a contingency plan to replace Ingram if they decide to let him walk. Kyle Emanuel and Jeremiah Attaochu have both regressed and proved to be nothing more than rotational players. But I find it hard to believe that in their first year in Los Angeles, the Chargers would let Ingram leave and settle for some marginal player to replace him. With Telesco’s job possibly being on the line, look for the Chargers to make some aggressive, splashy moves to become immediate contenders, and win over the fan base in Los Angeles.