It’s getting very hard for teams to add a veteran pass rusher, and free agency hasn’t even started yet. Another one has been franchised.
The Los Angeles Chargers reportedly have locked down Ingram with the non-exclusive tag, and the two sides will have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. Otherwise, Ingram would be locked into a one-year tender offer of about $14.1 million this season. True, another team could sign Ingram to an offer sheet, but it would owe the Chargers a princely sum (two first-round picks) if they failed to match it.
Monday saw a slew of pressure defenders hit with the tag: the New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul, the Carolina Panthers’ Kawann Short, and the Arizona Cardinals’ Chandler Jones, with more likely to come before Wednesday, which is the final day for franchise and transition tags to be applied.
Alongside Joey Bosa, Ingram had a fantastic season in 2016, giving the Chargers one of the better pass-rushing duos in the NFL. Ingram totaled eight sacks, five passes defended and four forced fumbles this past season and now has started 39 consecutive games after gaining a reputation of being injury-prone, overweight and inconsistent early in his career.
But now as the team embarks on its second stint in L.A., Ingram is a franchise player. The Chargers’ defense has a chance to be very good this coming season, with Ingram a big part of that again. Interestingly, this was only the seventh time in franchise history the team has used the tag, and the first since Vincent Jackson in 2011.
The Chargers made the right call here. Even with a very good draft crop of pass-rushing talents, Ingram likely would have cashed in elsewhere had the team not taken this measure. There was no other prospective free agent on the roster even remotely worth considering franchising other than Ingram, and it was best that the team at least locked him in for another season.
Most of the top 4-3 defensive ends/3-4 outside linebackers now are off the market in essence, so players such as Green Bay’s Nick Perry or New England’s Jabaal Sheard could enter into overinflated markets and leave for other teams.
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