Colts: Could Melvin Ingram be a smart signing if Justin Houston leaves?

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 22: Defensive end Melvin Ingram #54 of the Los Angeles Chargers (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 22: Defensive end Melvin Ingram #54 of the Los Angeles Chargers (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts might’ve checked that ever-so-important quarterback box by agreeing to trade for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, but GM Chris Ballard still has a lot of work to do to get this roster ready for 2021.

Edge rusher will be an area that fans should be watching, as Justin Houston might bolt this offseason.

Houston was one of the most productive edge rushers in the league during his time with Kansas City Chiefs, and the four-time Pro Bowler recorded 19 sacks in two seasons in Matt Eberflus’ scheme with the Colts.

If he decides to leave Indianapolis, don’t be surprised if Ballard pursues Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Melvin Ingram.

While Ingram and Joey Bosa served as one of the league’s best pass rush duos over the last few years, 2020 was a rare down season, as Ingram struggled with injuries and poor play right before his big pay day. Still, in a crowded market for pass rushers, Ingram will get plenty of contract offers.

With Houston potentially leaving the Colts at the altar, would Ingram make sense as a replacement? He could have a bounce-back year in Indy’s 4-3 defense, but he might be a risky addition following his poor 2020 season.

Melvin Ingram could be a risky, but smart move for the Colts.

Ingram comes to the Colts with a bit of pedigree. The former South Carolina Gamecock and first-round selection has made three Pro Bowls in his career while totaling 360 tackles and 49 sacks in his nine-year career.

But in 2020 he was a funky fit in Gus Bradley’s defense, which neutered his effectiveness as a pass rusher. Ingram didn’t record a sack and mustered just 10 tackles in seven games, which hardly sounds like production that Indianapolis should be tripping over themselves for, especially considering Ingram will turn 32 in two months.

If he returns to his pre-Bradley form, Ingram could be a game-changer. His ability to use his speed to turn around the corner and his power to bullrush opposing tackles made him one of the most feared edge rushers in the league in his prime, and there’s some optimism that Eberflus can once again make him a dominant player. Just look at how he utilized Houston after the veteran dealt with a number of injury-filled seasons.

Ingram could replace Houston and become a stud for the Colts, but they need to exercise some restraint. If he starts off by asking for an expensive contract or a long-term deal, the Colts shouldn’t overpay just to bring him to Indianapolis. But we know Ballard will do all he can to get the best deal possible, so we’re not entirely worried about that.

Nonetheless, look for Ingram to be a possible Colts target if the price is right.