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Melvin Ingram Took Advantage of the Chargers’ Vulnerable Position

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Between moving from San Diego to Los Angeles and the delayed signing of rookie phenom Joey Bosa, the Los Angeles Chargers needed to avoid a lengthy holdout with OLB Melvin Ingram this offseason and the player (and his agent) took advantage of that.

NFL: Preseason-Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

While Ingram managed to stay healthy the last two seasons, an issue in his first three years, he managed just 8 sacks in 2016 (2.5 less than Joey Bosa, who was a rookie and played in only 12 games) and then demanded superstar money at the end of his contract.

The Chargers obliged, putting the franchise tag on him and offering him a one-year deal that would’ve made him one of the five highest-paid players at his position in 2017. That wasn’t good enough.

Ingram didn’t show up to voluntary OTAs, didn’t sign his franchise tender, and privately said that he wasn’t coming to work unless he got offered a long-term contract. Why? Because he had all of the leverage.

The Location

The Chargers are spending the next three years playing in the L.A. Galaxy’s StubHub Center before moving into the Los Angeles Rams’ stadium in Inglewood, where they will be a tenant. The Chargers are trying to build a fanbase in glitzy L.A. while sleeping on the couch of an MLS team until they can rent a room from an actual NFL team.

If they were to keep from paying Ingram what he wanted, after saying that moving to L.A. was a financial opportunity that San Diego couldn’t match, they would be viewed as the cheap team with the broke owner that won’t spend on anything. That’s not a great perception to have around the league or when you’re trying to win new fans.

The Bosa Thing

Every person you know knows who Joey Bosa is, and that’s not because he was 2016’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year nor was it because he was a fantastic Ohio State Buckeye. They know Joey Bosa because they know he was the only rookie that couldn’t get signed by his team on a regular schedule despite the rookie wage scale having fixed this issue.

The Chargers took way more of a hit for the Joey Bosa holdout last offseason than the player did, and it’s a PR problem they’re going to have to keep in mind if they want to compete in the future. They need to be viewed as player-friendly and not unrealistic in their financial expectations. They can not be viewed as predatory. They had to take care of Ingram when he publicly demanded it.

The Draft

Melvin Ingram had the franchise tag placed on him in February, the 2017 NFL Draft happened in April, and Melvin Ingram got signed to a long-term deal in June.

Coincidence? Nope!

When the Chargers didn’t draft a pass-rusher early, they gave Ingram increased leverage. What were they going to do, spend the season fighting bad PR in a new town while people complained about the defense playing with one arm tied behind its back and Ingram watching from home?

Of course not. Melvin and his agent could’ve asked for the moon after the draft and gotten it. The Chargers need him this season more than he needs them, and he used that to get what he wanted.

The next time a player says “It’s a business” in response to a move the team makes that he doesn’t agree with, I hope he remembers that sometimes that business ends up working out well for the players as well.