PITTSBURGH — When the Pittsburgh Steelers traded outside linebacker Melvin Ingram to the Kansas City Chiefs, they weren’t concerned about it.
Instead, Ingram’s departure benefited the Steelers — strengthening their Week 16 opponent — even if it left them thin at the position.
“We didn’t weigh their circumstances,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “We weighed our circumstances. Not only the tangible element of our circumstances, but the intangible quality that makes us a team. When we moved him, we had an opportunity to get value for him and so that was entertaining and interesting to us.
“But also, to be quite honest with you and blunt, Melvin no longer wanted to be here. And for us, we prefer volunteers as opposed to hostages. And we believe that’s a formula that allows us to come together in ways that you can’t measure. To do the things we were able to do last week, to smile collectively in the face of adversity and do what’s required to get out of the stadium with necessary wins. That’s more of a function of us and the things that we value and less about Kansas City, the things that they needed or the prospects of playing them later in the season.”
Before he was traded for a 2022 sixth-round pick at the deadline, Ingram played six games in Pittsburgh and finished his brief Steelers’ tenure with a sack and 10 tackles. In six games with the Chiefs, Ingram also has a sack and 10 tackles, but he has seen an uptick in playing time. Used most often in Pittsburgh when either Alex Highsmith or T.J. Watt was injured or as a rotational piece, Ingram has played at least half the defensive snaps in the Chiefs’ past four games, including 71% in the overtime win against the L.A. Chargers.
In adding Ingram, the Chiefs were able to move defensive lineman Chris Jones almost exclusively to defensive tackle, jumpstarting the defense.
“His versatility is very evident,” Tomlin said of Jones. “They were lacking in some edge depth early on in the season. He played outside, was a dominant force outside, has been a dominant force inside.
“I think one of the things that’s allowed them to gain some traction from a defensive perspective is in recent months, they’ve been able to play him almost exclusively inside. You feel his dominance and presence. Not only as a pass-rusher in terms of producing sacks, but his ability to disrupt the overall offensive game, play the run, bat passes. He’s a catalyst. “