The New York Jets passed on Melvin Ingram once, they can’t let the same mistake happen twice.
Back during the 2012 NFL draft, the Jets were desperately searching for pass-rush help. New York held the No. 16 overall pick and there were three players that they were considering at the top of their board as their selection was approaching:
- Bruce Irvin, defensive lineman, West Virginia
- Ingram, linebacker, South Carolina
- Quinton Coples, defensive end, North Carolina
Right before Gang Green got on the clock they were sniped by the Seattle Seahawks with the No. 15 pick as they snagged Irvin. That left the Jets with one of two choices: a lanky versatile pass rusher out of Chapel Hill or a smaller tweener prospect.
The green and white fell in love with the measurables and took Coples. While just a few picks later, the San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles), stole Ingram with the No. 18 overall selection.
The former UNC star has been out of the league for six years (his last regular-season game was in 2015 with the Miami Dolphins). While Ingram has had a remarkable career highlighted by three Pro Bowl seasons consecutively from 2017 through 2019.
The Missing Piece on Defense
The Jets have added a ton of intriguing pieces to the defense. Carl Lawson is the crowned jewel formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, but they also added several rotational players like Sheldon Rankins, Vinny Curry, among others.
Although the missing piece is the pass rusher opposite of Lawson in the 4-3 scheme.
One of the reasons the Jets initially passed on Ingram is because of the scheme fit. The former LA Chargers pass rusher stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 247 pounds. While his size doesn’t fit the prototypical characteristics of this defense, he has defied those odds his entire career.
Perfect Recipe for a Win-Win Situation
From 2015 through 2019, the 32-year old pass rusher recorded at least seven sacks in each of those seasons. That impressive streak was snapped this past season due to a myriad of injuries that held him to seven games.
Ingram has proven when healthy he can be a dominant force, regardless of the defensive scheme he’s lined up in. The Jets would be wise to kick the tires at this point in the offseason.
Back in February, Over The Cap’s market value (a projection of what a player can get in free agency) for Ingram was a measly $1.5 million. The Jets have over $25 million which is second-most in the NFL.
They have more than enough money to make this happen.
It would behoove the former South Carolina defensive stud to sign a one-year prove-it deal with Gang Green in 2021. With a defensive-minded head coach in Robert Saleh, Ingram could rediscover himself then he could cash in next offseason with the final big contract of his career.
It’s a win-win scenario.
The green and white would get a motivated pass rusher in a contract year that could produce right away. While Ingram could put himself in the best position possible to cash in one more time.
If he plays as well as he’s capable of, perhaps the Jets will take it upon themselves to re-sign him to another short-term deal. This is the perfect low risk vs high reward kind of deal general manager Joe Douglas has made his reputation on.
Imagine that front four: Lawson, Quinnen Williams, Rankins, and Ingram on the other side. It wouldn’t quite be the New York Sack Exchange, but it would provide the Jets with a legitimate foursome that could wreak havoc next season.