The Pittsburgh Steelers are unfortunately growing a bit of a list of players who can probably be considered disgruntled former employees—at least at the time of their exit, and that includes some big Steelers names as well as some free agency failures. The most recent name on the list is Melvin Ingram.
The former Pro Bowl outside linebacker was traded on Tuesday for just a sixth-round pick after the relationship with him apparently devolved, seemingly over his playing time. It’s gotten everybody talking about culture and the team’s history, and that includes Ryan Clark, who weighed in on 93.7 The Fan yesterday.
“It just happens sometimes. And sometimes you get dudes and you have other dudes that are playing better”, he said about the situation. “He obviously wasn’t going to play before no. 90 played. And then you have 56 coming in and playing extremely well, too”.
He is referring to T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, of course, the Steelers’ starting outside linebackers, both of whom have had success this season. Watt has 8.5 sacks in six games played, so that’s pretty good. Ingram has played a lot in spite of this, though his playing time was decreasing.
“Sometimes you think a situation is going to be one thing, and then it’s another, and so you pivot. Melvin Ingram wanted to pivot, and the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed him to do so”, Clark said. “I think that’s just a part of life. LeGarrette Blount. You think you’re gonna play more you do, and you don’t. That’s just life. Sometimes you actually aren’t as good anymore as you used to be! What a novel idea!”.
The Steelers signed Blount at a time when they were still not sure who Le’Veon Bell was going to be, and they envisioned a one-two punch before realizing that Bell was a whole haymaker on his own. The ascension of Highsmith is likely similar, even though there has been no suggestion that Ingram was made any promises or assurances that were not met.
“I think you can hurt your team, but also, having a disgruntled football player can hurt your team as well”, Clark said when asked about whether or not it was worth trading a player like Ingram for a sixth-round pick. “I think you have to weigh chemistry, you have to weigh harmony, you have to weigh the energy of the locker room against, ‘oh, this guy might be hurt, and what do we have as a backup?’”.
“Melvin Ingram would definitely provide quality veteran experienced depth”, he acknowledged. “Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin made those decisions. For every decision that works out for a team, there are gonna be some that don’t”.
This one clearly didn’t, though I find it hard to put much of any fault on the Steelers on this one. Ingram decided after the fact that he wasn’t happy with his circumstances and sort of forced his way out. The only thing they really could have done was play him more, but you don’t play somebody just to appease him.