You know what social media “cool phrase” I’m really starting to get annoyed by these days (almost as much as the social media “cool phrase” that begins, “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but....”)? The one where someone makes a simple statement and then tags it with, “That’s it, that’s the list.”
A rather pretentious way of putting things, I’d say, but if someone would have gone on Twitter on Monday and said, “Melvin Ingram will provide solid depth for the Steelers at outside linebacker in 2021. That’s it, that’s the Tweet” immediately after Pittsburgh inked the veteran pass rusher to a one-year deal, I would have replied with, “That’s fair.”
After all, that’s what Ingram was brought in to do, right? The Steelers were in obvious need of solid depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. I mean, Cassius Marsh? Quincy Roche (for now)? Yikes.
Ingram, 32, with his 96-career starts and 49-career sacks should allow the Steelers and their fans to sleep well at night knowing the team has a decent backup at outside linebacker just in case.
But it can never be like that anymore, at least not in the world of extreme sports takes.
Instead of people just saying, “Oh, cool,” when the news of the Ingram signing was announced, we started having arguments everywhere, with some people being too happy and others being too angry.
Some non-Steelers fans have even been mocking Steelers fans over this signing as if Ingram was brought in to be the savior of the defense. Sure, there are those who, with their glee, seem to be a little too high on the deal as if Ingram actually will be a huge difference-maker for Keith Butler’s unit in 2021.
They’re probably wrong, too.
Don’t talk to me about working Ingram into the rotation or exploring his versatility. He is an oft-injured 32-year old outside linebacker who was sitting near the middle of a list of mostly-prominent unsigned free agents in July.
Those guys usually don’t go somewhere and become difference makers. However, those kinds of free agents—the unsigned prominent names sitting around in July—are often still pretty good and can be of some value to a team for the right price. But one problem may be that they’re just not a hiring match, thanks to their asking price or their desire to play a lot. Maybe you can identify by relating in a “real world” sorta way. Let’s say you’re out of work. You know you still have a lot to offer, but the only jobs available are of the minimum-wage variety. Do you take one of those jobs, or do you become a gig worker while you bide your time, waiting for a more attractive offer to come along? I would go with the gig work. You work your own schedule. You can maintain your independence. Something better almost always comes along.
That’s the kind of free agent Melvin Ingram was. He was too old and injury-prone to sign a mega-deal at the onset of free agency, but he was still too valuable to settle for some veteran-minimum contract.
Now, Ingram is a Steeler. Now, he can come in and be a dangerous and explosive weapon in Butler’s defense...but probably not. It could happen, sure, but I wouldn't bet on it. Best case scenario: Ingram will be a Tyson Alualu kind of veteran addition, someone who saves the team’s bacon from time to time, especially when an injury arises. No, he doesn’t give the team the kind of starts that make fans and media members go, “I don’t think Ingram should be taken out of the lineup when Highsmith is healthy,” but he does do his job very well while filling in. Much like Alualu, you find yourself going, “Wow, Ingram is such a comforting veteran presence on this defense. The Steelers sure were smart to bring him in as depth.”
You’d take that, wouldn’t you? If you knew you were going to get that kind of year from Ingram, would you be breaking out the wine or breaking out the whine? No, it just wouldn’t be worth all of that fuss.
There is nothing wrong with Ingram simply being quality depth at outside linebacker in 2021. Why do we think it could be more? Why are some so upset about Ingram’s injury history? Because July free agents used to be guys that were just sitting out there until someone signed them. Now, thanks to social media, they’re on all of these lists. Fans bring them up all the time on podcasts. Talk show hosts say things like, “If the Steelers don’t sign (insert July free agent here), they just don’t care about winning.” Really? Let me tell you, if you need a July free agent to put you over the top, you're likely going to be stuck at the bottom.
Think of a July free agent in a more practical sense. It’s kind of like finding an old movie that you love on some free streaming service. For the purposes of this article, let’s just say you stumble upon Back to School starring Rodney Dangerfield. No, it’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but it certainly is a refreshing alternative to all of that pretentious prestige programming you’ve been binging on recently.
It saves your evening in a way you didn’t even know was possible.
Melvin Ingram is nothing more than a practical free-agent pickup, a player who will hopefully provide solid depth for the Steelers at outside linebacker in 2021. That’s it, that’s the article.