Melvin Ingram looked to be one who had gotten away from the K.C. Chiefs early in the season when the defense hit an all-time low in the Steve Spagnuolo era—back when Ingram had been a pleasant surprise for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ingram had visited the Chiefs as a free agent in March but ultimately left without a deal before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers later in the offseason.
The Chiefs pass rush was a unit that struggled despite facing some rather poor offensive lines to begin the season, and the defense as a whole gave up 29 points or more in the first five games of the NFL season which was a historic skid.
Fans were calling for general manager Brett Veach’s head for not picking up another pass rusher in the offseason. The highest investment they had made was a fourth round draft pick in Joshua Kaindoh, who was always going to need time to develop even though the unit was a clear need the season prior.
Should the KC Chiefs extend Melvin Ingram?
Surprisingly, the dominoes would fall just right for Ingram and the Chiefs as Ingram reportedly wanted out of Pittsburgh and the Chiefs were willing to deal a 6th round pick to acquire him at the deadline. Coincidentally or not, the defense would start to turn a corner after Ingram’s arrival, going on a dominant eight-game win streak and igniting a pass rush that vaulted from last in the league in sacks to a well-respected group.
Ingram’s numbers won’t wow you and many national media pundits seem to have downplayed Ingram’s effect on the defense because of his overall stats. However, those who have watched the games and analyzed film know that the pass rush has fed off of his energy, and his ability to generate pressure has opened things up for the entire defense. It also can’t be understated the edge-setting ability Ingram has brought to Kansas City.
Since he has been such an integral part of the defensive turnaround, the idea of extending him this offseason has been floated. Should the Chiefs bring him back?
To me, it’s a no-brainer. That’s not to say the Chiefs shouldn’t still invest in another edge, though, whether it be through the draft or free agency. Let’s start by looking at the Chiefs defensive end room and how that factors into bringing Ingram back.
Outside of Ingram, I only see two of those names coming back. Mike Danna and Joshua Kaindoh. Frank Clark is still almost certainly gone despite a decent year. You just can’t pay him $29 million. Maybe he comes back on a sweetheart deal and realizes his market isn’t that strong, but who knows? Alex Okafor seemed like a desperate signing before the start of this season and you could easily improve there. Obviously, you can’t just roll into next season with Danna and Kaindoh, so bringing back Ingram makes a lot of sense.
What would his role be?. Ingram has been the de facto starter opposite Clark since he’s gotten comfortable in Kansas City, or at least he’s shown to be who the Chiefs trust in critical situations. However, we have to acknowledge that he’s getting up there in age a little bit and won’t be around forever.
The Chiefs will likely draft an edge high or bring in a notable name this offseason. Whoever that ends up being is going to need snaps eventually. Given that Ingram initially requested out of Pittsburgh because of a lack of playing time, you have to wonder what Ingram’s expectations are as he is about to turn 32 years old.
It’s worth noting that the Chiefs have a tight-knit relationship between staff and players and it seems pretty likely that they will clearly define what Ingram’s role would be before re-signing him if they wish to do so. It’s also possible that Ingram has accepted that fact at this point in his career since being traded.
Either way the Chiefs are going to need to sign a veteran edge anyway this offseason considering how many guys will likely be departing this offseason. Ingram already knows the system and probably wouldn’t cost too much to bring back. In addition to that, Ingram has never really experienced a deep playoff run in his professional career and probably likes what he’s got going on in Kansas City. Another year seems inevitable.