Would a Melvin Ingram homecoming help the Carolina Panthers?
By Dean Jones
Would a Melvin Ingram homecoming benefit the Carolina Panthers in 2021 free agency?
The Carolina Panthers are looking to make some significant improvements this offseason. Their encouraging start under head coach Matt Rhule will count for nothing if they don’t get their recruitment right both in free agency and via the next batch of college recruits in the 2021 NFL Draft. So it really is a precarious situation the franchise is facing in the coming weeks.
Carolina is going to be aggressive as new general manager Scott Fitterer looks to make an instant impression after arriving from the Seattle Seahawks. Their pursuit of an upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback is going to be the big talking point, but there are plenty of other holes that need to be filled before OTAs roll around in another different format as COVID-19 continues to be prevalent across the country.
One area where the Panthers could be looking for additional reinforcements is their front seven on defense. This young group improved dramatically as the season went on, but with the recent releases of Kawann Short, Woodrow Hamilton, and Stephen Weatherly to free-up some essential salary-cap space, more will be needed moving forward.
They’ll need to be prudent about how much they spend in this particular region of the field considering needs elsewhere. But if the Panthers can get someone who is capable of rushing the passer from the edge opposite Brian Burns, it could make all the difference.
Melvin Ingram and the Carolina Panthers could work.
One player that will surely enter the discussion is Melvin Ingram. The Los Angeles Chargers veteran is from the area and providing the money is right, would no doubt welcome an opportunity for a move closer to home.
Ingram held out briefly prior to training camp last summer as he looked for a longer-term commitment on the final year of his deal. The Chargers didn’t bow to his demands and a frustrating 2020 campaign due to injury saw the three-time Pro Bowler feature in just seven games and fail to record a single sack.
This could play into the Panthers’ hands, to a certain extent.
Ingram won’t be asking for the sort of money that comes with a double-digit sack season and the former South Carolina standout would be a tremendous addition providing there aren’t any more complications from a health perspective.
Ingram hails from Richmond, North Carolina, and obviously played his college football with the Gamecocks. These ties to the area make a move such as this realistic if there is a mutual interest between both parties. But the player will be 32-years-old by the time competitive action comes along in 2021 and this isn’t in keeping with the Panthers’ clear need to go younger since Rhule took over at the helm.
However, not every recruit can be young and dynamic.
This is why Ingram could come in, help a young group develop, and make a lasting contribution where it matters most – on the gridiron.
With career stats of 49 sacks, 360 tackles, 108 quarterback hits, 14 forced fumbles, 28 passes defended, and 70 tackles for loss, there is no doubt Ingram would be a tremendous asset. He also has the versatility to play as a defensive end or as an outside linebacker, which is something the Panthers sought heavily during their recruitment process last time around.
As is the case with every decision Carolina makes in the current climate, it will come down to money. Ingram is projected to command an annual salary of $11.4 million on a three-year, $34.2 million deal when he heads to the bargaining table, according to Spotrac. But considering he’s made $81.2 million during his career, a hometown discount is not entirely out of the question.
4 teams that could sign Russell Okung in free agency
Which teams could be in the market for Carolina Panthers' offensive lineman Russell Okung as the left tackle gets set to hit the free-agent market?
This would be a popular acquisition by the Panthers. Whether it’s something that’s on their radar or not remains unclear.