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Using franchise tag on Melvin Ingram easy call for Chargers

SAN DIEGO -- With a focus on drafting and developing the team’s core talent, Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco had little choice but to figure out a way to keep one of the best pass-rushers in the AFC West on his roster.

That’s why the Chargers franchising Melvin Ingram on Monday was a no-brainer. With 18.5 sacks and no missed games over the past two seasons, Ingram has proved he can stay healthy and be a productive player.

Pass-rushers can produce at a relatively high level well into their mid-30s, so at 27 years old, Ingram still has plenty of good years ahead.

With Joey Bosa still on his rookie contract, the Chargers are getting great value from the Ohio State product in comparison to his production. And by keeping Ingram around, it makes sure opposing offenses cannot double-team Bosa as he heads into his second season.

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley recently said Ingram will be a good fit in his system as a Leo defensive end, as the Chargers switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive alignment.

“With his production and his effort, he’s just been a highly productive player,” Bradley said of Ingram. “I just think for him, it’s the opportunity to rush more and be on the line of scrimmage more.

“He’ll have his times when he has to drop, but the percentage is going to change to where it’s going to lean more towards giving him the ability to rush.”

Besides keeping Bosa and Ingram together, the Chargers did not have much choice, because there’s no one on the roster who can replace Ingram’s production. The Chargers like the potential of young pass-rushers such as Jeremiah Attaochu and Chris Landrum, but neither has shown he can put up the double-digit sacks over a full season that Ingram can.

The Chargers also reap the benefit of all of the years they have put in developing Ingram into one of the more polished pass-rushers in the game.

Selected No. 18 overall in the 2012 draft, Ingram struggled to stay healthy over his first three years in the league, which were hindered by ACL surgery on his left knee in 2013 and a hip issue in 2014.

However, after shedding 20 pounds and committing to a better nutrition plan during the 2015 offseason, Ingram finally began to play to his potential. And it appears the Chargers are in line to profit, with Ingram’s best years in the NFL potentially ahead of him.