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Steelers’ Veteran Pass Rusher Identified As Potential Trade Candidate By NFL Insider

Brace yourselves: silly season is upon us.

Yes, that’s right, the NFL trade deadline is fast approaching, and it never fails that big names, hot commodities and some surprise veteran names are bandied about as part of the ever-churning rumor mill.

On Sunday morning, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport added to that rumor mill, releasing a piece detailing a number of surprise veteran names that could be traded before the Nov. 2 trade deadline, including Pittsburgh Steelers’ veteran pass rusher Melvin Ingram.

According to Rapoport, the veteran pass rusher that signed with the Steelers in June on a one-year deal could be on the move prior to the deadline.

“The longtime Chargers veteran landed in Pittsburgh this year and has yet to hit his stride,” Rapoport writes. “With inconsistent playing time, teams have begun calling the Steelers about potentially trading for Ingram, and it does appear the Steelers have listened and engaged. Due the balance of just $1.075 million in base salary (the team paid $2.925 million in a signing bonus), Ingram isn’t expensive. The Chiefs have been among those on the hunt around the league for a pass rusher, and they did host Ingram on a visit before he signed.”

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that teams have been calling about Ingram, nor should it be surprising that the Steelers have engaged, according to Rapoport’s reporting. Ingram was signed as a depth piece in the Steel City, solidifying the backup spots behind All-Pro T.J. Watt and second-year pro and first-year starter Alex Highsmith after the loss of Bud Dupree to the Tennessee Titans in free agency.

With both Watt and Highsmith dealing with injuries early in the year, Ingram’s presence helped the Steelers get by early in the year as the veteran provided pressure and caused teams to worry about where he was lined up along the defensive front.

Now though, with both Watt and Highsmith fully healthy, Ingram has seen his snap count decline rapidly in recent weeks. After playing 47 snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, Ingram has played 35, 36, and a season-low 17 snaps in the last three weeks against the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.

It’s hard to envision the Steelers turning around and dealing away a key depth piece at this point in the season, especially with the deadline just nine days away and the team hovering around .500 while still in the playoff picture, not to mention the inexperience of No. 4 outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka behind the trio.

However, it’s worth mentioning the Steelers did have real interest in free agent pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, who chose the Green Bay Packers last week, turning down an offer from the Steelers. Was that Pittsburgh trying to preemptively strike at the position and make sure thy had an answer before dealing Ingram away? It’s certainly possible.

Never say never when it comes to dealing away a backup under Kevin Colbert, but it’s hard to believe he’d make such a move at this point in the season after working so hard to solidify the position prior to training camp.

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