PITTSBURGH — Steelers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram III is on the move.
The Steelers traded Ingram to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a sixth-round pick ahead of the trade deadline, the teams announced Tuesday.
Ingram, a former Pro Bowler who spent nine seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, signed a one-year deal with the Steelers before training camp as a rotational outside linebacker, but recently expressed frustration over his role after playing just 26% of snaps against the Seattle Seahawks.
Ingram, who didn’t practice last week or travel to the Steelers’ game in Cleveland because of a groin injury, finishes his brief career in Pittsburgh with one sack and 10 tackles. Ingram’s limited role speaks to the Steelers’ confidence in second-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, who has 1.5 sacks and 25 tackles this season.
“I enjoy working with Melvin,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “It just didn’t work out the way we envisioned, the way he envisioned. And sometimes it happens in free agency and that’s really, you know, culturally, why we build our team primarily through the draft.”
The Chiefs and Steelers engaged in trade talks over the past couple of weeks, but initially the Steelers opted to hold on to their pass-rusher in hopes they could find a suitor that wasn’t in the AFC. But the market never materialized, and Pittsburgh granted Ingram’s trade request by sending him to Kansas City.
“What the team needs is first and foremost,” Tomlin said. “Also, it’s better to have volunteers as opposed to hostages, so that’s good for the team as well.”
With Ingram gone, the Steelers’ outside linebacker depth is thin. Derrek Tuszka, initially selected by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the 2020 draft, is the only other outside linebacker on the active roster behind starters T.J. Watt and Highsmith. Pittsburgh elevated practice squad pass-rusher Taco Charlton to the active roster for the game in Cleveland, an option that could add to the depth at the position going forward.
“We’re excited about the growth and development of Taco,” Tomlin said. “We’re going to continue to give him opportunities along with Derreck to fortify depth at the outside linebacker position. Obviously, we’re extremely comfortable with the growth and development of Alex Highsmith.”
The Chiefs have just 11 sacks in eight games, the second-lowest total in the league. Chris Jones has played more on the edge this season, but it hasn’t helped the pass rush. He has three sacks.
Kansas City’s other top pass-rusher, Frank Clark, missed three games with an injury, and he has just one sack, which came on the Giants’ final play in the Chiefs’ 20-17 win Monday night.
ESPN’s Adam Teicher contributed to this report.