The Chargers made major news on Monday when they placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Melvin Ingram. After all, it was only the seventh time in franchise history they've opted to use the tag.
While a rare occurrence, General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Anthony Lynn explained the decision was a no brainer.
"He's one of the elite pass rushers in this league," Lynn simply said. "We didn't want him to reach the market. We're trying to work something out behind the scenes (for a longer contract), but Melvin's a Charger and we want him to be here."
"He was a priority for us this offseason," added Telesco. "Pass rushers are so important. With Melvin, every year he's been in the league we've seen improvement. Last year he did a really, really nice job for us not only as a pass rusher, but he made a lot of plays in the run game. We know going into next year we've got Melvin here, and we'll keep working on a long term deal to keep him beyond 2017."
As Lynn and Telesco alluded, the Bolts can still lock Ingram up with a long-term deal between now and July 15. However, once that date passes he must play under the franchise tag for the 2017 season under a contract that is the average of the top five salaries at his position from last year.
Ingram continued to terrorize QBs in 2016, and ranks 12th in the NFL over the past two seasons with 18.5 sacks. After injuries limited him from 2013-2014, he broke out in 2015 to become the first Charger to reach double-digit sacks (10.5) since 2011. The South Carolina product also set career-highs with 76 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. Last season, he recorded 66 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and a team-high 23 QB hits.
"The effort that he gives us and the leadership he can give us is important," Telesco continued. "The position he plays is so important. Pass rushers can close out games for you. Pass rushers can win games for you. He's going to be a big part of our defense moving forward, so it was a big priority to have him here. We're thrilled that we got that done."
The Bolts also covet the way Ingram impacts games away from the scoresheet. A team captain for the first time in 2016, Lynn mentioned how Ingram's mere presence strikes fear in the heart of opposing defenses.
"Coaching against him, seeing him on the field, he plays hard. Stats don't tell the whole story. He disrupts the quarterback a lot and makes unselfish plays. I like the way he plays the game. He's a professional."
The Los Angeles Chargers have agreed to terms on a four-year deal with franchise-tagged Melvin Ingram. Take an in-depth look at his five-year career with the Chargers.