Daniel Popper of the Athletic is reporting that Chargers Edge Rusher Melvin Ingram is unhappy with his contract and that seems to be driving his current status with the team. Though Ingram has reported to camp he has seemingly been absent from anything involving physical contact.
It would seem that the most likely reason behind any sit out would be a desire to negotiate an extension before the start of the season. While normally player’s hold out to try to receive an extension, the NFL now requires a $50,000 a day fine which was designed to prevent hold outs. We have seen, in the past, players who have bonuses tied to participation in offseason activities utilize similar tactics of technically attending while limiting participation in contract drills.
Ingram is in the final year of a four year, $64 million contract that he signed as a franchise player in 2017 and set to be a free agent after the year. Odds are that the issue at hand is not guaranteed money, and in Popper’s report Ingrams agent, David Mulugheta, also said he is not looking for more guarantees. Ingram’s $14 million salary is essentially guaranteed for the year since it would be protected in the event of injury.
While it is possible that the pandemic could have Ingram looking for more salary protection (salary is not guaranteed in the event of the pandemic cancelling games) I would think that would have been something communicated earlier.
Most likely Ingram is looking to best protect his future. The Chargers kind of took a win now approach of sorts to the offseason but also let a number of their star players leave. Franchise QB Philip Rivers and star running back Melvin Gordon signed elsewhere in free agency and the team traded left tackle Russell Okung this offseason.
Next year is a massive year for free agent decisions for LA. In addition to Ingram, wide receiver Keenan Allen and tight end Hunter Henry are all free agents. In total they have 9 free agents who played at least 58% of the snaps for their respective unit in 2019. Ingram would be the oldest at 32 and, with the team just signing Joey Bosa to a monster sized contract extension, could be the odd man out making this year a bit more dangerous for his future.
Free agency was not exactly kind to the productive veteran pass rusher this offseason. Mario Addison was the top signing around $10 million a season. Everson Griffen sat on the sidelines until mid August and signed for just $6 million. Cameron Wake, Terrell Suggs, Ziggy Ansah and Clay Matthews all have gone unsigned. With money expected to dry up in 2021 due to the pandemic it will probably be worse for this group of players next year.
So with that in mind in makes sense to try to get some commitment from the Chargers now if that is what is driving the current rift between the player and team.
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Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.