ESPN insider’s John Clayton this week released his projected contract terms for the top 25 NFL free agents. His 10th ranked free agent was Los Angeles Chargers edge defender Melvin Ingram, and Clayton’s prediction should make any fan hoping that the Chargers retain their #2 pass rusher happy. At four years and $54 million, Ingram would be very affordable relative to some of the other numbers we have seen thrown around.
Does this number seem high? Don't be surprised if it's even more. Ingram is one of the best pass-rushers available, and the bidding could get crazy. He has 18.5 sacks during the past two seasons playing outside linebacker in the Chargers' 3-4.
It’s interesting that Clayton seems to think people will be surprised by how high his estimate is when the words “Olivier Vernon money” have been mentioned recently. Vernon, for those who don’t remember, inked a five-year, $85 million deal with the New York Giants last offseason. And while Ingram is not the player Vernon is, he is arguably the top free agent pass rusher this year and could conceivably command a contract that exceeds his on-field value. Still, with so many national writers talking up Ingram and suggesting that he’ll break the bank, it’s encouraging to see projected contract terms that Chargers fans could actually be happy about.