Potential Trade Packages, Landing Spots for Chargers Holdout Melvin Ingram III
Sources told The Athletic's Daniel Popper that the 31-year-old is not currently practicing because "he is dissatisfied with his contract situation."
If the pseudo-holdout continues, suitors should be calling Chargers general manager Tom Telesco to pry the talented edge-rusher away.
Ingram has earned three straight Pro Bowl nods while accumulating 24.5 sacks over the past three seasons. According to Pro Football Focus' Neil Hornsby, he also ranked third leaguewide in pass-rush win rate when facing two or more blockers last season.
His current contract could be problematic for interested parties, though. Ingram is in the final year of his four-year, $64 million contract and has a base salary of $14 million.
At his current price, less than half the league can afford Ingram's contract. If the Chargers aren't interested in reworking his deal, the following teams make the most sense as potential landing spots given their positional need and financial flexibility.
New England Patriots
Proposed Deal: New England Patriots send offensive lineman Joe Thuney and a 2021 sixth-round pick to Chargers for Ingram and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
The New England Patriots are the most interesting potential Ingram suitor for one main reason: They can offer a quality offensive lineman with some left tackle experience in return.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport floated the idea of the Patriots trading Thuney after they placed the franchise tag on the 27-year-old earlier this offseason. Given the investment they already made in fellow guard Shaq Mason, they aren't likely to make Thuney one of the league's highest-paid blockers as well.
Thuney's potential availability should intrigue the Chargers since he started multiple games at left tackle in college, and the Patriots even experimented with him there during the 2018 preseason. He would help complete the front five after L.A. signed right tackle Bryan Bulaga in free agency and traded for five-time Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner in March.
The Patriots, meanwhile, have the league's second-most salary-cap space at $35 million, per Spotrac. Ingram would instantly become their best edge-rusher.
Proposed Deal: Buffalo Bills trade offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe and a 2021 fifth-round pick to Chargers for Ingram and a 2021 seventh-round pick.
The Buffalo Bills can present a similar offer as their AFC East rival, but at a much lesser value.
Ty Nsekhe is one of the game's best utility linemen, although he's predominantly started at left tackle. Sam Tevi may be the Chargers' projected blindside starter, but Trey Pipkins III, Trent Scott and Forrest Lamp will all vie for the gig unless L.A. acquires a better option.
Nsehke has bounced around multiple leagues throughout his professional career, yet he's never looked out of place as an NFL left tackle.
Buffalo is one of the few NFL teams with legitimate offensive line depth even after losing Jon Feliciano to a pectoral injury and releasing Spencer Long. Daryl Williams, who signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Bills in free agency, can play tackle or guard just like Nsehke.
The Bills, who have $23.9 million in salary-cap space, present an extra level of intrigue since linebackers coach Bob Babich previously served on the Chargers coaching staff. The Bills could also use more pass-rushing punch, as they're old at the position with Jerry Hughes (32), Trent Murphy (29) and Mario Addison (32) on the roster.
New York Giants
Proposed Deal: New York Giants trade tight end Evan Engram and a 2021 sixth-round pick to Chargers for Ingram and a 2022 seventh-round pick.
The New York Giants entered the offseason with a significant need to improve their pass rush, but they didn't do anything to address it other than retaining Markus Golden and Leonard Williams.
With $21.8 million in salary-cap space, the Giants still have plenty of wiggle room to address the problem if they choose to do so. Putting Ingram opposite Golden would give the Giants an impressive edge-rushing tandem after the team's younger options failed to consistently apply pressure last season.
Would the Chargers want Evan Engram in return? After all, tight end Hunter Henry is only 25 years old and will play on the franchise tag this fall.
Engram has been a disappointment since the Giants selected him 23rd overall in the 2017 NFL draft. He's missed 14 games over his first three seasons because of injuries. But if he stays healthy, he's highly athletic and has mismatch potential in any offense.
If New York is ready to move on from Engram, the Chargers should see him as a complementary piece to Henry for the upcoming campaign and an insurance policy if he leaves in free agency next offseason.
Proposed Deal: Cleveland Browns trade a 2021 fourth-round pick and a 2022 sixth-round pick to Chargers for Ingram.
But their interest in bolstering their pass rush shouldn't be overlooked, especially when they have a league-leading $38.7 million in salary-cap space.
Ingram would immediately improve the Browns defensive end rotation so the front can pursue opposing quarterbacks in waves. They could also utilize Ingram as a "Sam" linebacker in a pinch and move him to defensive end in sub-packages, though that wouldn't be ideal.
Any Ingram trade would likely involve some sort of contract restructuring. Cleveland has the money to do so, but it must maintain its long-term financial flexibility for potential upcoming extensions for cornerback Denzel Ward, running back Nick Chubb and quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Proposed Deal: Indianapolis Colts trade a 2021 fifth-round pick and a 2022 seventh-round pick to Chargers for Ingram.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich was part of the Chargers' coaching staff from 2013 through 2015. His familiarity with Ingram should have the Colts interested in the premium pass-rusher at the right price.
Unlike the previously mentioned teams, the Colts could become involved if the Chargers look to dump Ingram's contract.
General manager Chris Ballard has consistently placed the franchise in a fantastic financial standing throughout his tenure. The Colts currently have $22.6 million in salary-cap space. If they chose to pursue Ingram, they're the perfect team to extend his contract with a league-leading $79.8 million in salary-cap space in 2021 (not counting any rollover cap).
Ingram could help the Colts' front four, too. He'd provide a proven bookend to Justin Houston and allow Indianapolis' defensive staff to slowly develop younger players instead of thrusting them into a starting role.
Houston and Ingram would be an older duo, but they could still get the job done.
All financial information via Spotrac.