Melvin Ingram may not be willing to take a smaller role by signing with Steelers

Melvin Ingram #54 of the Los Angeles Chargers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Melvin Ingram #54 of the Los Angeles Chargers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Melvin Ingram would add terrific depth to Pittsburgh’s thin group of edge defenders, but here’s why the former Pro Bowler may not be willing to take a smaller role with Steelers. 

Reports surfaced Sunday evening that the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to be meeting with former 3-time Pro Bowl pass rusher, Melvin Ingram. In a season that means so much, this is exactly the type of news Pittsburgh fans were hoping to hear.

After getting our hopes up that the team would attempt to sign Justin Houston to improve the edge defender depth, it looks like Melvin Ingram is the next-best option that could realistically be on the table. Unfortunately, there is one big factor standing in the way of him wearing black and yellow next season: what will his role be with the team?

The free-agent market is mostly dried up at this point, and I have little doubt that Ingram would like to find a new home. However, he may not be willing to come to Pittsburgh if it means that he would be forced to take on a smaller role.

This is a likely scenario – considering how impressive Alex Highsmith was a rookie. The former college walk-on and Steelers 2020 third-round pick quickly raised eyebrows with an impressive arsenal of pass rush moves that seemed to be beyond his years. So what does this mean for Pittsburgh’s likelihood of signing a player like Melvin Ingram in 2021?

Melvin Ingram may not be willing to sign with Steelers

I hate to be a downer when we finally have a glimmer of hope that the Steelers are going to make a big free-agent splash, signing Melvin Ingram may be more difficult than fans are making it out to be. This is mostly because it’s hard to envision him inking a contract with Pittsburgh to become a role player with the team.

After Highsmith’s impressive rookie campaign, the arrow is steeply pointed up; whereas Ingram is coming off quite arguably the worst season he has had since his second year in 2013. As he dealt with injuries, the veteran pass rusher did not record a single sack or tackle for a loss in 7 games last year, according to Pro Football Reference.

While Ingram certainly would have a quality role as the first edge rusher in the rotation who could rotate in for Highsmith and occasionally spell T.J. Watt of a few defensive series’, this may not be good enough for a player of Ingram’s reputation.

Taking a smaller role to come to Pittsburgh likely means taking less money than he would be comfortable with. If he doesn’t sign with the Steelers, there’s no telling how long he could be on the market for. After all, he’s lasted all the way until mid-July without any realistic suitors. Still, he could elect to be patient and wait for a team to suffer a major injury at the position in an effort to earn more money and a chance at one more solid 2-3 year deal after the 2021 season.

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Melvin Ingram isn’t the same Pro Bowl player he was back in 2017, but he’s still a quality football player who can make a difference. I just don’t know if he would be willing to play for the Steelers unless he was guaranteed a starting role with the team in 2021.