The Chargers have hired a new coaching staff, and will soon be moving to a new city. At least this spring, they won’t have to worry about finding a new defensive star.
On Monday, the team placed a franchise tag on outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, keeping the 27-year-old pass rusher in the fold for at least another season. Ingram’s presence across from Joey Bosa, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, gives the Chargers’ defensive front a pair of outstanding bookends as it transitions to a 4-3 scheme under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Ingram was set to be one of the top free agents on the market this offseason, and could have commanded a multi-year contract worth roughly $50 million.
After a slow start to his career, the former first-round pick out of South Carolina recorded 18.5 sacks in the last two seasons – a breakout that prompted the Chargers to use the franchise tag for just the seventh time in franchise history. They had last placed it on receiver Vincent Jackson in 2011.
If the Chargers do not reach a long-term deal with Ingram by July 15, they will pay him around $15 million or $17 million in 2017 – depending on whether he is designated as a linebacker or a defensive end, respectively. That would take up nearly all of the Chargers’ cap space, which is projected to be around $20 million.
Ingram’s tag is non-exclusive, which allows other teams to negotiate with him in free agency, but preserves the Chargers’ right to match any offer. If the Chargers then declined, they would receive two first-round picks.
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