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Chargers put franchise tag on linebacker Melvin Ingram

SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Chargers placed the franchise tag on edge rusher Melvin Ingram on Monday.

The move had been expected before the window for NFL teams to apply the franchise tag on players set to hit free agency closes at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Ingram's tag will be non-exclusive, which means other teams can still negotiate with him in the free-agency window. But if a team signed him and the Chargers declined to match the offer, they would be compensated with two first-round draft picks.

The South Carolina product was slated to be one of the top free agents in March if allowed to hit the market. With 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons, Ingram is tied for 12th in the NFL over that time period.

Paired with second-year pro Joey Bosa, the move ensures the Chargers have one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the NFL and that Ingram will be with the Chargers in 2017, giving the team until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal.

Ingram turns 28 in April, and according to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the pass-rusher is a fit in his 4-3 scheme as a weakside defensive end. During his first five seasons in the NFL, Ingram played outside linebacker in former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano's 3-4 scheme.

Olivier Vernon set the bar for pass-rushers last year by signing a five-year, $85 million contract with the New York Giants in free agency that included $52.5 million in guaranteed money.

The Chargers likely will be unwilling to match that deal.

The Chargers have used the franchise tag just six times in team history. The last time was in 2011 on receiver Vincent Jackson.

The amount it will cost to retain Ingram for a season will depend on if he's designated as a linebacker or defensive end. ESPN's John Clayton projects a franchise tag designation of a little over $15 million for linebackers and $17 million for defensive ends with a projected salary cap of $168 million.

The problem for the Chargers would be the cap hit the team would take if Ingram signed the franchise tender. The Chargers have roughly $20 million in cap space, and all of Ingram's salary would be designated toward this year's cap.

Thus, it would be beneficial for the Chargers to get a long-term deal done with Ingram to lower his cap number.

Ingram is represented by Roc Nation Sports.