Hours before the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday, that the Kansas City Chiefs traded a 2022 sixth-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for 32-year-old edge rusher Melvin Ingram.
Reports this past offseason said the Chiefs had attempted to sign Ingram as a free agent. Ingram ultimately decided to sign a one-year contract worth $4 million dollars with Pittsburgh.
On Tuesday, head coach Andy Reid was asked about why things didn’t work out for Ingram and the Chiefs when he visited Kansas City in the offseason
“He just ended up going somewhere else,” said Reid. “That’s how this works sometimes.”
Fortunately for the Chiefs, things did not go as either side envisioned in Pittsburgh. Ingram never quite got his footing with the Steelers, as he recently lost his starting job to second-year edge rusher Alex Highsmith.
Then a report that Ingram had requested a trade surfaced last week.
As @RapSheet reported this weekend, OLB Melvin Ingram does indeed want out of Pittsburgh after seeing a reduction in his playing time. I’m told KC made an offer, but the #Steelers ideally don’t want to send him to an AFC team. Could the #Cardinals make a good trade partner?— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2021
It was reported that the Steelers did not want to trade Ingram to an AFC rival, but as the trade deadline drew near, Pittsburgh pulled the trigger and decided to accept the Chiefs' offer.
With $2,925,000 of Ingram’s $4 million dollar contract guaranteed at signing, the Chiefs are only on the hook for Ingram’s base salary of $597, 222.
Prior to this season, Ingram had played his entire career for the Chiefs’ AFC West rival, the Los Angeles Chargers, where he was named to three consecutive Pro Bowl’s from 2017-19. Ingram missed the majority of the 2020 season with a lingering knee injury that he sustained in Week 3 while playing the Carolina Panthers. It was the fourth injury of his career to his right leg.
Given Ingram’s injury history, it’s fair to wonder how much Ingram has left in the tank.
“We felt like it was an addition of another good football player,” said Reid on Wednesday. “Very smart kid. We’ve competed against him a number of times, and you’ve seen him play. He’s getting older, he’s moved around a bit, but we had brought him up in the offseason and felt like he’d be a nice addition to the room. So, we were able to get him this time and made the move. It gives you another guy that can rush the passer but can also play the run”
For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus graded Ingram a respectable 68.2 in run defense — and an elite 82.1 in pass rush so far this season.
How quickly Ingram can get acclimated to his new team and environment will ultimately determine how fast the Chiefs play him. The Chiefs take on the Green Back Packers this weekend.
“We’re not going to put him in a bad situation,” said Reid. “He just got here and he was able to sit in on the meetings, but he just got here late last night and kind of got cranking this morning. So, we’ll see how he picks things up and where he feels comfortable. With these veteran guys, they’ll let you know if you keep open communication with them.”
Given the struggles the Chiefs have had rushing the quarterback, any help is sure to be a welcome addition. Perhaps the happiest person to see Ingram trade out his black and yellow jersey for a red one is Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“I’m glad he’s on my team,” said the quarterback “I know we play the Steelers later on in the year so just glad to have him on our side of the football. He’s smart, he’s a vet, he’s very crafty in the way he does things, he has all the moves, but he’s also really good against the pass and really good against the run as well. Whenever you’re able to add those kinds of guys to your team and this point in the season that can come in and make an impact, it’s always exciting to see how they fit in with our group.”
But Mahomes wasn’t the only player in the building excited about the addition of another veteran in the locker room. Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu noted on Tuesday that Ingram’s talent “speaks for itself.”
“I’m more excited about his leadership and what he’s going to provide on that end,” added Mathieu. “I look at him as one of those guys that he’s a dog. So, just looking forward to seeing him play fast.”
Whether or not Ingram returns to his Pro Bowl form and helps pull the Chiefs’ 27th ranked pass rush out of the cellar remains to be seen.
For the price, it’s a small investment on a possible large payout. If Ingram can come in and just play as well as he did the first few weeks of the season, the trade will have been worth it.