Steelers' Mike Tomlin on Trading Melvin Ingram to Chiefs: He Didn't Want to Be Here

Erin WalshDecember 21, 2021

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 12: Melvin Ingram #24 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates his quarterback sack during the first quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
David Eulitt/Getty Images

While speaking with reporters ahead of Sunday's matchup against Kansas City, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin discussed his decision to trade defensive end Melvin Ingram to the Chiefs in November.    

"We didn't weigh their circumstances," Tomlin said. "We weighed our circumstances. Not only the tangible element of our circumstances, but the intangible quality that makes us a team. When we moved him, we had an opportunity to get value for him and so that was entertaining and interesting to us.
"But also, to be quite honest with you and blunt, Melvin no longer wanted to be here. And for us, we prefer volunteers as opposed to hostages. And we believe that's a formula that allows us to come together in ways that you can't measure. To do the things we were able to do last week, to smile collectively in the face of adversity and do what's required to get out of the stadium with necessary wins. That's more of a function of us and the things that we value and less about Kansas City, the things that they needed or the prospects of playing them later in the season."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Aditi Kinkhabwala reported in October that Ingram wanted out of Pittsburgh due to a decrease in playing time. Ingram averaged 83.3 percent of the Steelers' defensive snaps through the first three weeks of the season before seeing a decrease to 45 percent from Weeks 4-6. 

T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith get the majority of Pittsburgh's defensive end snaps. Tomlin previously told reporters that Ingram's snap count was tied to the health of the players above him on the depth chart. 

"Reps change based on player availability," Tomlin said earlier in the season, as transcribed by Steelers Depot. "T.J. has missed some time. Alex Highsmith has missed some time. ... Both of those guys are back from injury. And so when you have everybody available, there's going to be less snaps. It's just football." 

The Chiefs acquired Ingram for added depth behind Chris Jones and Mike Danna. However, he hasn't had much of an impact in Kansas City yet, recording just one sack, 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits in six games. He's averaging 57 percent of the Chiefs' defensive snaps. 

Ingram is on his third team in less than two seasons. He spent the first nine years of his career with the Los Angeles Chargers, where he was a three-time Pro Bowler. 

Sunday's game is massive for the Steelers, as they are a half game back of the final wild-card spot and the AFC North division lead. It's also a big game for the Chiefs, who could be without several players due to a COVID-19 outbreak.