According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s widely expected that Los Angeles Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram will be franchise tagged by the Bolts before Wednesday–effectively taking him off the Indianapolis Colts offseason wish list:
Earlier this offseason, we listed him as both a ‘Top 5 Free agent for the Colts to Target’, as well as made a compelling argument as to why Indianapolis should sign him–having been speculated that he could potentially become a free agent.
The franchise tag will essentially prevent Ingram from hitting the open market, and instead, he’ll be forced to play under a one-year tender roughly equal to the top five players at the outside linebacker position–assuming a long-term deal cannot be reached with the Chargers.
If the Chargers give Ingram the ‘exclusive’ tag, it means that they’re the only NFL team that can bargain with the marquee pass rusher, whereas with the non-exclusive tag, any team would be forced to surrender two first round picks–which simply won’t happen.
Originally drafted by the Chargers in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the 6’2″, 247 pound pass rusher has combined for 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons.
Per Pro Football Focus, Ingram was rated as their 7th best ‘edge rusher’ in 2016:
"7. Melvin Ingram, San Diego ChargersIt wasn’t long ago that Melvin Ingram was seen as a first-round draft disappointment, but he has developed into the player that the Chargers thought he could be—it just took him the duration of his rookie contract. Ingram only had eight sacks this season, but posted 72 total pressures and had multiple pressures in every single game of the season. In seven games, he had at least five total pressures, and was also markedly improved against the run this season."
Specifically, per Pro Football Focus (subscription), the 27 year old’s productivity was better than his actual sack total indicates, however, as he was graded as their 6th best ‘edge defender’ overall with a +88.1 grade–including a +84.9 pass rush grade (ranked 9th best).
With Arizona Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones receiving the franchise tag Monday, as well as the Carolina Panthers Mario Addison recently signing a multi-year extension, the pass rushing market is already starting to get noticeably thinner.
Of course, what it means is that pass rushers continue to be held at a premium, and the Colts are going to hard-pressed to find an impactful one–unless the team goes to the early rounds of the NFL draft to select one or two.
Realistically, the Colts should come away with at least two impact pass rushers from this year’s offseason, as the defense can’t solely rely on one player going forward.
The big pass rushing names are already coming off the board and free agency hasn’t even started yet–meaning the Colts may have to turn solely to the draft to fill their dire need at the pass rushing position.
Update (5:19 PM EST): Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New York Giants pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul will be franchise tagged if a long-term deal cannot be reached with his current team–meaning he can also be safely crossed off the list for the Colts:
As a result, it’s looking like it’s ‘Nick Perry or bust’ if the Colts are actually still looking toward free agency to help upgrade their pass rush this offseason.