Chargers put franchise tag on free-agent linebacker Melvin Ingram

Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram had 60 tackles with eight sacks last season.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

The Chargers have placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on their top free agent, edge-rushing linebacker Melvin Ingram, the club announced Monday.

Ingram, provided he signs the tender, will make north of $15 million next year — money that’ll be fully guaranteed. He and the Chargers can work on a long-term deal until July 15.

Ingram, the team’s first-round pick in 2012, developed into one of the NFL’s top pass-rushers, picking up 18.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles over the last two seasons.


Ingram, 27, is expected to move to defensive end this season opposite defensive rookie of the year Joey Bosa with the team shifting from a 3-4 defensive scheme to a 4-3, though the staff has insisted the changes will be minimal.

Ingram had been viewed as one of the top defensive free agents on the market this summer.

By making moves to keep Ingram, the Chargers have stayed within their personnel preference to draft, develop and then, re-sign their own players.

It’s the first time the Chargers have used the franchise tag since they designated Vincent Jackson in 2011.

By choosing to use the “nonexclusive” tag, the Chargers give themselves a massive safety net if Ingram decides he’d like to play somewhere else.

Until he signs the tag offer, the sixth-year South Carolina product is free to negotiate with other NFL teams.

If he agrees to terms elsewhere, the Chargers have the right to match. If they decided the price was too high, the Chargers could let Ingram walk at the cost of a pair of first-round picks from whatever team he signed with.

The steep asking price makes it very likely Ingram is lining up opposite of Bosa on the defensive line next season when the team plays its inaugural season in Los Angeles.

Ingram’s one of the top edge rushers on the market ( ranks him as the No. 9 overall free agent and Pro Football Focus ranks him No. 4). Over the last two seasons, he’s tied for the 12th-most sacks.

After struggling to adjust to the NFL, Ingram has started in his last 41 games for the Chargers.

If the Chargers are able to strike a long-term deal with Ingram, it could allow them to manipulate the contract to try to maximize space under the salary cap.

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