KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)The Kansas City Chiefs had seen enough of Melvin Ingram dragging down their quarterbacks over the years that it made sense to chase the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end when he became a free agent last offseason.
They didn’t manage to land him then – Ingram ultimately chose to sign with Pittsburgh.
They finally got him in a trade on Tuesday.
The Chiefs shipped a late-round draft pick to the Steelers for a one-year rental, though it’s possible if things work out that Ingram could sign an extension or new contract in Kansas City.
But more pressingly, the longtime Chargers pass rusher will be counted upon to instantly upgrade a defensive front that has struggled to do much of anything right this season.
Even after three sacks against the Giants on Monday night, the Chiefs have just 11 to rank in the league’s bottom three.
”First off, I’m glad he’s on my team. We play the Steelers later in the year and I’m glad to have him on our side,” said Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who’s been sacked a couple of times by Ingram during his short NFL career.
In fact, Ingram has 8 1/2 sacks in 15 games against Kansas City.
”He’s smart. He’s a vet. He’s crafty how he does things,” Mahomes said. ”He has all the moves and he’s very good against the pass, but he’s also very good against the run as well.”
Good thing. Truth be told, the Chiefs defense needs help with just about everything.
Nobody expects the 32-year-old Ingram to be the devastating force he was early in his career, but he did show signs early this season that he could still get the job done. He had his lone sack along with three quarterback hits against the Raiders, and he started and played every defensive snap against the Bengals, before his playing time slowly diminished.
That led him to ask for a trade. The Steelers, content with their other young pass rushes, ultimately obliged.
The timing worked out well for the Chiefs, who are starting to realize their experiment moving perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones to the edge hasn’t been working out quite as well as they hoped. Jones has been his usual force when he’s lined up over the center, but he doesn’t have the same dynamic impact when he kicks outside.
Then there’s defensive end Frank Clark, one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league, who acknowledged last week that off-the-field issues have been weighing on his mind. But he finally began to show some impact against the Giants with his first sack of the season to wrap up Monday night’s come-from-behind win.
Throw in the fact that Jones has missed two games with injuries, and Clark has missed three, and it made sense that Chiefs general manager Brett Veach would be working the phones at the trade deadline for some pass-rushing help.
”I was excited, man. I’ve watched him from afar – we’re both SEC guys – and I’ve always like the way he plays the game,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said. ”I think the talent speaks for itself. I’m more excited for his leadership and what he’s going to provide on that front. The guys up front have another guy they can utilize and rely on.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he didn’t plan on putting Ingram in a ”bad situation” by forcing him onto the field before he’s ready, but picking up the defensive playbook isn’t quite the same animal as an offensive one. So even though Ingram only arrived in Kansas City on Wednesday, there’s a chance he could be on the field against Green Bay on Sunday.
”He’s very smart. We’ve competed against him a number of times and watched him play,” Reid said. ”He’s getting older, he’s moved around a bit, but we brought him up in the offseason and we felt like he’d be a nice addition to the room. We were able to get him this time. It gives you another player that can rush the passer.”
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