Volunteers, not hostages. That’s Mike Tomlin’s motto. Melvin Ingram didn’t want to be a Pittsburgh Steeler so he’s no longer a Pittsburgh Steeler, traded Tuesday to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2022 sixth round pick. During his weekly press conference, Tomlin explained why the team made the move.
“I enjoyed working with Melvin Ingram,” Tomlin said during his presser via the team’s YouTube channel. “It just didn’t work out the way we envisioned, the way he envisioned. Sometimes that happens in free agency.”
Ingram reportedly was unhappy with playing time, particularly playing behind Alex Highsmith. He’ll now seek more playing time with the Kansas City Chiefs. It doesn’t sound like the Steelers had a desire to trade Ingram away, valuable depth as the team’s #3 outside linebacker, but it was obvious Ingram no longer had a desire in Pittsburgh.
Tomlin used this trade to affirm the team’s philosophy of preferring to build through the draft rather than free agency.
“And that’s really culturally why we build our team primarily through the draft. When you do business with guys from the time they’re 20 and 21, you get an opportunity to be part of their growth and development. They get an opportunity to buy into your system of ball and their roles in it from a very young age. It makes the division of labor thing a more fluid thing. Free agency makes it more cumbersome at times to get to know on a lot of levels as you’re preparing to play games.”
As Tomlin implies, and as was the issue with Ingram’s situation, he expected to come in and start, the proven veteran over a second-year guy like Highsmith. The Steelers had a different expectation, using him as depth and a rotational piece. It probably didn’t help expectations that Ingram served as a starting throughout the summer during T.J. Watt’s hold-in, and then got used to a higher share of playing time early in the year while Watt and Highsmith battled groin injuries. As those guys got healthy, Ingram’s role shrunk, and so did his desire to remain a Steeler.
Invoking the “volunteers, not hostages” phrase, Tomlin wished Ingram well and then focused on the guys who still are Pittsburgh Steelers, showing confidence in Taco Charlton.
“It’s good for him. We wish him the best moving forward. But it’s also good for us. We’re excited about the growth and development of Taco. Taco’s been on our practice squad for over a month now. We had an opportunity to elevate him in the game versus Cleveland. He gave us more than adequate work there. We’re going to continue to give him opportunities along with Derrek [Tuszka] to fortify depths along at the outside linebacker position. Obviously, we’re extremely comfortable with the growth and development of Alex Highsmith.”
Charlton will move into Ingram’s role with Tuszka picking up a couple of spare snaps per game. Look for a breakdown of Charlton’s debut, logging ten snaps against the Browns, a little later today.