Interesting free agent visit for the #Dolphins: Former #Chiefs pass-rusher Melvin Ingram is visiting today, per me and @TomPelissero. He came on strong last year in KC, now a potential addition in Miami.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 12, 2022
Ingram, 32, appeared in nine 2021 games (with six starts) for the Chiefs after the club acquired him via trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He compiled 15 tackles (seven solo), 11 pressures and a sack for Kansas City during the regular season. In three playoff games, Ingram registered five tackles (four solo) and 2.0 sacks.
Ingram visiting the Dolphins doesn’t necessarily rule out a potential return to the Chiefs. As a reminder, Ingram visited several different teams (including the Chiefs) last offseason before ultimately signing with the Steelers in mid-July.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach was asked about Ingram back on February 1 and noted as such.
“When we went through that free agency process last year, there are always phases — the early phase of the UFA period, and then the middle and late phases,” said Veach. Sometimes these older players, these accomplished players are really patient and if they don’t get exactly what they want, then they’d rather just wait and kind of let things unfold and give their bodies an extended period of time. I don’t think some of these guys are in a rush to do some of the offseason stuff either because they’ve been there, done that. But we certainly had interest in Melvin.
“We had a chance to bring him in later and we couldn’t get something done, but there was mutual interest, I think. As we got into the season and we were going through some injury stuff with Frank (Clark) and Chris (Jones), we were always keeping the eyes and ears open for a chance to strengthen the defensive line room, in particular the depth at that defensive end position.
“Just doing the work that our staff does throughout the year, keeping the phone lines open, we were able to communicate with Pittsburgh there and they kind of hinted to us that they might do something. We just stayed aggressive and kept calling them back, and then we were able to bring him here, and obviously he had a tremendous impact. He solidified the depth at that position and allowed Chris to play more inside, more of his natural technique. But then his leadership and his approach I think elevated everyone else’s game. I don’t think it was just a fluke that the defense kind of took off from there. We had a really good string of late-season football, and I think he was a huge part of that.
“With Melvin, I think it will be very similar to last year. I think he’ll be a guy that will want to take his time. He’s played a lot of snaps, still a productive player, still can help the team, still would be of interest to us. I think he’ll go through the process of taking some time and getting with his family and seeing where he wants to play and what makes sense for him. But I do think if a guy like Melvin decides he wants to come back and play, I think that we would be at the top of his list, and that’s something we’ll work to keep the dialogue open with.”
There is no doubting that the Chiefs’ defense — especially the defensive line — played much better with Ingram. The Chiefs opted to retain Ingram’s running mate, Frank Clark, earlier this offseason. The depth beyond Clark includes Mike Danna, Josh Kaindoh, Austin Edwards, Malik Herring and Jonathan Woodard. It is also worth noting that defensive lineman Chris Jones still played outside roughly a third of the time, even after the midseason primary position swap.
Given the EDGE-rich draft, the Chiefs are expected to spend a premium draft selection in that area. But bringing Ingram back would certainly make fans feel better about the position as a whole.
As outlined above, Ingram is once again expected to take his time. His connection to Tyreek Hill’s Dolphins (which still feels weird to say) is likely only the beginning of his process.