Melvin Ingram

AFC Notes: Broncos, Jets, Chargers, Chiefs

John Bowlen, the younger brother of Broncos majority owner Pat Bowlen, is aiming to sell his minority stake (30-35%) in the club, sources tell Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. John Bowlen’s decision to sell wouldn’t necessarily affect the day-to-day operations of the Broncos, as Pat Bowlen — who stepped down as principal owner in 2014 due to Alzheimer’s disease — would still hold the majority of the team and be entitled to designate one of his children as his successor. But John Bowlen reportedly believes the Bronocs are “not being run the way Pat would have run it in many, many capacities” and wants a new owner in charge, per Jhabvala.

Here’s more from the AFC as Week 4 draws to a close:

  • Although the Jets re-signed offensive Ben Ijalana to a two-year deal this spring, they’ve barely used him through four weeks of the 2017, leading Rich Cimini of ESPN.com to wonder if Gang Green could place Ijalana on the trade block. An acquiring club would only be responsible for the rest of Ijalana’s $1MM base salary this season plus $4.75MM (all non-guaranteed) in 2018. New York, meanwhile, would take on $2.5MM in dead money over the next two seasons by dealing Ijalana. Now in his age-28 campaign, Ijalana started 13 games in 2016 and is capable of playing either left or right tackle, but he’s played only five offensive snaps this season.
  • Under the terms of his four-year deal with the Chargers, edge rusher Melvin Ingram can collect a $1MM bonus if registers 12.5 sacks or earns a Pro Bowl nod, tweets veteran NFL reporter Adam Caplan. Through four games, Ingram has already posted 5.5 sacks (though he didn’t manage any against the Eagles today), so he should have a good shot at collecting that bonus. Ingram is Pro Football Focus‘ No. 9-rated edge defender thus far in 2017.
  • Rookie running back Kareem Hunt was advised to return to college following the 2015 season before entering the draft and being selected by the Chiefs in the third round in 2017, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com writes. Hunt, of course, leads the NFL in rushing yards through three games and would arguably be the favorite for MVP if the season ended today. As La Canfora details, Hunt re-tooled his body prior to his senior season at Toledo and posted more than 1,800 yards from scrimmage in his final collegiate campaign.
  • The Ravens had planned to promote fullback Ricky Ortiz from their practice squad and integrate him as a large part of their offensive gameplan in Week 4, but an Ortiz injury prevented that transaction from going through, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Baltimore doesn’t currently have a fullback on its roster, but it did use Kyle Juszczyk enough in 2016 that he became the NFL’s highest-paid FB with the 49ers. Ortiz is a 2017 undrafted free agent out of Oregon State.

Miller’s Latest: Prospects, Rams, Chargers, Bears

Per usual, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had several notable opinions and hot takes in his weekly column, led by a debate on whether Ezekiel Elliott is the best running back in the NFL (the writer ultimately surmises that the title belongs to Le’Veon Bell).

Of course, Miller touched on a number of other important subjects. While the entire article is worth reading, we’ve picked out some of the notable tidbits below…

  • Penn State running back Saquon Barkley‘s draft stock continues to climb, as Miller claims that the offensive weapon could end up being a Le’Veon Belltype player. Meanwhile, the writer declares that Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen is the top signal-caller in the 2018 draft.
  • Speaking of draft prospects, Miller is rather enthusiastic about the talent on Clemson’s football team. The writer believes that defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and defensive end Clelin Ferrell all have potential to be top-1o picks, although it’s worth noting that Lawrence won’t be available until the 2019 draft.
  • While Aaron Donald showed up to Rams mandatory minicamp, the defensive lineman is still seeking a brand-new contract. Miller believes the former first-rounder will ultimately become one of the highest-paid players in the NFL once he signs an extension. Miller also notes how Texans offensive lineman Duane Brown and Panthers tight end Greg Olsen are also seeking a new deal.
  • The four-year deal for Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram is “news you should take note of,” said Miller. The organization now has the former first-rounder and Joey Bosa locked up for several years, creating quite the formidable (and youthful) defensive front.
  • Bob Stoops suddenly announced his retirement as the head coach of the University of Oklahoma, shocking the NCAA. Miller notes that the 56-year-old could be in line to replace John Fox if the Bears decide to look for another coach next offseason, although the writer notes that Jeff Fisher could be another candidate.

West Rumors: Leary, Ingram, 49ers

The AFC West produced by far the biggest news this weekend, with the Chargers and Melvin Ingram agreeing to a four-year, $66MM extension that comes with $42MM guaranteed. Here’s more coming out of the Western divisions, as seven of the divisions’ eight teams are scheduled to hold their mandatory minicamps from Tuesday-Thursday.

  • The agreement between Ingram and the Chargers is not yet official, but only a Monday trip to Chargers park in San Diego and a pending physical remain before Ingram signs the contract and becomes the third-richest defender in the AFC West, Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. This will clear a path for Ingram to participate in minicamp. Von Miller‘s six-year, $114MM pact and Justin Houston‘s six-year, $101MM agreement surpass Ingram’s. But the gap between Ingram and the division’s fourth-highest-paid defender (per AAV), Eric Berry, is significant. The AFC West figures to soon house four top-tier defensive contracts once the Raiders extend Khalil Mack at a price that could well surpass Miller’s agreement.
  • Ronald Leary became by far the highest-paid guard in Broncos history after signing a four-year, $36MM deal. Leary agreed to the Broncos’ offer just before free agency opened, but other teams may have had concerns about the now-29-year-old blocker. An anonymous NFL evaluator said, via Mike Sando of ESPN.com (Insider link), teams were nervous about “knee issues” associated with the sixth-year player. Leary was diagnosed with a degenerative knee condition prior to his NFL career and underwent knee surgery while at Memphis. This ended up affecting Leary’s draft status in 2012, when he went undrafted, but the interior lineman proved to be a quality performer during lengthy starting stays in Dallas — the latest of which earned him the Denver deal.
  • The 49ers quickly cut bait on wide receiver K.D. Cannon coming out of their rookie minicamp and filled his roster spot with a Georgia Southern wideout named B.J. Johnson. The coaching staff was so impressed by the 6-foot-1 tryout player they gave him a roster spot, and it turned out to be Cannon’s. While Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com notes questions about the urgency Cannon exhibited during the workouts emerged, new 49ers wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur said the swap was more related to Johnson’s performance that weekend. “Nothing happened with K.D. Cannon,” LaFleur said. “It had nothing do with K.D. It was more of a testament to what B.J. showed.” Cannon, who finished his Baylor career No. 3 in receiving yardage in program history, caught on with the Jets.
  • It’s “very possible” Derek Carr could become the NFL’s first $25MM-per-year player.
  • The Cardinals don’t want Jeremy Maclin, but they still have their eye on some free agents, per Steve Keim. Arizona was one of the few teams that opted to conduct its minicamp this week, so the Cards don’t have another team activity until training camp.

Chargers, Melvin Ingram Agree On Extension

The Chargers have joined the list of teams who opted to avoid procrastinating with their franchise-tagged player this summer. Melvin Ingram and the Bolts came to an agreement on a four-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

It’s a $66MM contract for Ingram, per Schefter (on Twitter). He adds that $42MM of Ingram’s deal is guaranteed. The Chargers announced the agreement.

The 28-year-old Ingram played five seasons in San Diego, 2016 on a fifth-year option, before being franchise-tagged earlier this year. The Chargers join the Cardinals and Giants as teams that avoided any midsummer tag edge defender drama with and will proceed with an Ingram/Joey Bosa tandem long-term. Ingram registered eight sacks last season and now has 18.5 over the past two years. He’s forced eight fumbles since the 2015 season, establishing himself as one of the game’s best edge players.

Ingram had not signed his tender and did not show for the Bolts’ OTA sessions, but he will be at minicamp and report as one of the wealthiest defenders in football. In terms of total value, Ingram’s deal places him just behind Olivier Vernon‘s Giants pact worth $85MM among 4-3 defensive ends. On a per-year basis, Ingram’s $16.5MM figure also slots him second behind Vernon at his new position. Ingram’s deal matches Chandler Jones‘ AAV figure, only Jones signed a five-year Cardinals contract. Among edge rushers, only Von Miller, Vernon and Justin Houston presently make more than Ingram.

The Bolts are converting from the 3-4 look they’ve used throughout Ingram’s tenure to a 4-3 base set. The position change clearly did not alter the franchise’s view of Ingram, who now comes in behind only Philip Rivers on the team’s salary hierarchy. Los Angeles entered Sunday with just over $12MM in cap space.

Ingram’s next Pro Bowl will be his first, but the former first-round pick has shined despite an injury-limited start to his career. The former South Carolina defender missed 19 games combined between the 2013 and ’14 seasons, with a torn ACL and hip malady sidelining him during that time, but rebounded to play in 16 during each of the past two years. Pro Football Focus slotted Ingram as its No. 6 edge defender last season. The site rated Bosa as its No. 5 edge player, illustrating what kind of duo the Bolts now have locked up through the 2020 season.

This marks a far less volatile process compared to the franchise’s dealings with its previous franchise player. The Bolts tagged Vincent Jackson in 2011 after he skipped most of the 2010 season due to a contract stalemate. Jackson never signed a long-term Bolts pact, relocating to Tampa Bay in 2012.

This agreement leaves Le’Veon Bell, Trumaine Johnson and Kirk Cousins as unsigned players among the 2017 franchise-tagged contingent. Bell is the only one remaining to have not signed his tender. Ingram joins Pierre-Paul, Jones and Kawann Short as tagged performers who have signed extensions. So, 2017’s July 15 drama will not match that of the past two years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Hill, Ingram, Boyle

Tyreek Hill was a revelation for the Chiefs last year, and his success as a rookie is one of the reasons the club was comfortable making the surprise decision to release Jeremy Maclin. And as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes, Hill’s role with Kansas City this year will evolve accordingly.

For one, Hill will not be used on kickoff returns, as the team cannot afford to risk his health any more than is strictly necessary (though he will still be deployed on punt returns). Secondly, because Hill is fairly small — Paylor says the 185-pounder is closer to 5-8 than the 5-10 he is listed as — the Chiefs will need to limit his workload to some degree, although head coach Andy Reid, who was generally successful in managing the workloads of players like DeSean Jackson and Brian Westbrook, is unconcerned about that aspect of Hill’s development. Finally, the team expects Hill to step into Maclin’s “Z” receiver spot, the spotlight position in Reid’s offense. The Chiefs believe Hill’s abilities make a Steve Smith-like trajectory — i.e. a small but electric return man becoming a similarly prolific wideout — a strong possibility.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • The Chargers are still negotiating a long-term deal with Melvin Ingram, who is one of two franchise-tagged players yet to sign their tenders or reach a long-term deal with their respective teams (Le’Veon Bell is the other). However, given that Ingram is likely looking for an Olivier Vernon-esque contract (five years, $85MM), Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com says it is more likely Ingram plays under the tag in 2017. That may end up being the best result for both sides, as Ingram would still collect a nice payday this year ($14.55MM), and he would hit the open market at age 29 next year, as Los Angeles is unlikely to tag him again. The Chargers, meanwhile, would get the benefit of Ingram’s services this season, and there is a good chance new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can adequately develop one of the team’s young pass rushers to replace Ingram’s production in 2018.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believes the Browns may get more involved in the Jeremy Maclin sweepstakes if he does not sign with either Baltimore or Buffalo — which seems like a long shot at the moment — and she says Cleveland will likely at least inquire on Eric Decker, which the team has done with every quality veteran receiver hitting the market.
  • Even without Dennis Pitta, the Ravens have a crowded tight end corps., but Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com believes little-known Nick Boyle could be the player to emerge as Joe Flacco‘s go-to target at the position. Boyle has size and good hands and is a capable blocker, and though he has already been suspended twice in his brief career for PED violations, health has not been an issue for him, as it has been for his fellow tight ends on the roster. The team has also discussed using him as a fullback.
  • We rounded up a number of Jets-related notes earlier today.

Melvin Ingram, Le’Veon Bell Likely To Stay Away From Workouts

The final two franchise-tagged players yet to sign their tenders or reach a long-term deal with their respective teams, Le’Veon Bell and Melvin Ingramaren’t expected to show at team facilities any time soon, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.

It would be a surprise if the Steelers running back and Chargers edge defender participated in OTAs or minicamp, per Rapoport, who adds Ingram is more likely to stage a holdout come training camp if he and the Bolts are unable to come to a long-term agreement by July 15.

Bell, conversely, remains in talks with the Steelers on a long-term pact, and Rapoport notes neither Bell (attached to a $12.1MM tag) nor Pittsburgh management is worried about the running back’s status.

Rapoport adds that no firm decisions are in place yet for these two talents, but they are the last two of their ilk during an offseason that hasn’t seen quite the tag drama as in years past. Chandler Jones, Jason Pierre-Paul and Kawann Short have already come to agreements on lucrative extensions, and Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson are working out with their respective teams after signing their tenders.

Ingram’s situation could resemble Eric Berry‘s if the sides can’t agree by the deadline. The safety did not receive a long-term commitment from his team and did not rejoin the Chiefs until late August of last year. Rapoport points out the Chargers’ struggles striking deals with tagged performers Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles as examples of why Ingram’s path to an extension may be more complicated than Bell’s.

Since the Chargers tagged Ingram in February, no updates have emerged about progress in talks on an extension. The Chargers have changed significantly since Ingram was last on the field, moving from San Diego to Los Angeles and changing from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 alignment. Ingram spent his entire five-year career in a 3-4 look, so the career outside linebacker’s fit under Gus Bradley isn’t as certain as it was under John Pagano. But the Bolts using the $14.6MM tag on Ingram provides a good illustration of their view of the defender.

However, more Ingram deal parameters emerged after Pierre-Paul and Jones inked their extensions. Bell is expected to become the league’s highest-paid running back, so the Steelers won’t have other contracts to work off of like the Chargers do this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Players

The deadline to designate franchise or transition players for 2017 has passed. Here’s the rundown of the players that were tagged, plus the candidates that did not receive the designation:

Franchise players (exclusive):

Franchise players (non-exclusive):

*second tag; players receive raise over designated salary for position tender

Candidates who didn’t receive tags:

Chargers Franchise Tag Melvin Ingram

The Chargers have placed the franchise tag on edge rusher Melvin Ingram, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Ingram becomes the fifth pending free agent to be handed the franchise tender today, joining Chandler Jones, Kawann ShortJason Pierre-Paul, and Le’Veon Bell."<strong

[RELATED: Los Angeles Chargers Depth Chart]

Ingram, 27, will earn a one-year, fully guaranteed salary of roughly $14.75MM, although the exact figure won’t be known until the NFL announces the official salary cap for 2017. After seeing Ingram post 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons, Los Angeles was more than willing to pay that total in order to ensure he’ll will remain with the Chargers for at least one more campaign.

Rival clubs can still bid on Ingram, but they’d have to sacrifice two first-round picks in order to sign him away. Los Angeles has until July 15 to sign Ingram to an extension, or he’ll be forced to play out the season on the one-year tender.

Ingram placed fourth on the most recent edition of PFR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, and was listed second on our list of free agent edge defenders, just behind Jones and ahead of Pierre-Paul. The No. 6 pass rusher in the NFL last season — according to Pro Football Focus — Ingram will return to Los Angeles to pair with PFF’s No. 5 edge player, Joey Bosa. Both defenders will likely play end in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s 4-3 scheme.

The 2017 free agent class of edge defenders is rapidly thinning now that Ingram, Jones, and Pierre-Paul are all under the franchise tag. Nick Perry (Packers), Jabaal Sheard (Patriots), James Harrison (Steelers), and John Simon (Texans) look like the next best options among pass rushing free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ingram, Johnson To Be Franchise Tagged?

Melvin Ingram and Trumaine Johnson are among the players expected to be franchise tagged between now and March 1, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Schefter also lists Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, Kawann Short as guys who are likely to get the tag. Melvin Ingram (vertical)

While Cousins, Bell, and Short have long been seen as likely franchise candidates, things were less certain when it came to California’s two top free agents. Ingram has racked up 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons, but the Chargers have lots of holes to fill and some believed that the team would direct those resources elsewhere. Johnson, meanwhile, is coming off of a so-so season and the Rams will have to pay a surcharge in order to tag him for a second time.

It’s likely that the latest salary cap projection is playing a role in the decisions. It now sounds like the cap will land somewhere between $166MM and $169MM, up from $155.27MM last year. The one-year franchise tenders are expensive, but they are easier to swallow now that all 32 teams will have a little extra room to work with.

Our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings had Ingram as the fourth-best free agent on the board. Johnson was outside of the Top 10 but earned honorable mention.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

[RELATED: Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense]

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Chandler Jones
  2. Melvin Ingram
  3. Jason Pierre-Paul
  4. Nick Perry
  5. Jabaal Sheard
  6. James Harrison
  7. John Simon
  8. DeMarcus Ware
  9. Lorenzo Alexander
  10. Andre Branch
  11. Julius Peppers
  12. Charles Johnson
  13. Datone Jones
  14. Mario Addison
  15. Dwight Freeney

The Cardinals have already made it abundantly clear that Chandler Jones will see the franchise tag this offseason, and Melvin Ingram and Jason Pierre-Paul are also candidates to be tagged by the Chargers and Giants, respectively. If the latter two are able to hit the open market unfettered, however, they both figure to break the bank. Ingram, Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 edge defender, could be a fit for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, while JPP will be looking for a long-term commitment after signing consecutive one-year deals.Chandler Jones (vertical)

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among the players with youth still on their side, Packers edge defenders Nick Perry and Datone Jones figure to interest different clubs, as Perry is a better match for a 3-4 defense while Jones needs to restart his career as a 4-3 defensive end. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. James Harrison and Charles Johnson, meanwhile, look like good bets to return to Steelers and Panthers, respectively, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Kawann Short
  2. Calais Campbell
  3. Johnathan Hankins
  4. Brandon Williams
  5. Dontari Poe
  6. Chris Baker
  7. Bennie Logan
  8. Nick Fairley
  9. Alan Branch
  10. Jared Odrick
  11. Karl Klug
  12. Terrell McClain
  13. Lawrence Guy
  14. Earl Mitchell
  15. Stacy McGee

Unlike the edge defender market, the 2017 cadre of interior defensive lineman shouldn’t be overly affected by the franchise tender. Head coach Ron Rivera recently confessed the Panthers will “probably” have to use the tag on Kawann Short, but the rest of the defensive tackles listed here should be able to hit the open market. Of the remaining defenders, Campbell is the best overall player, but given that he’s entering his age-31 season, he may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Earl Mitchell), and run stoppers (Karl Klug, Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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