Mike Tomlin said that he liked working with Melvin Ingram III, who spent just over three months with the Steelers after spending his first nine seasons with the Chargers. But Ingram's unwillingness to accept his role within the Steelers' defense ultimately resulted in Pittsburgh traded him to the Chiefs for a sixth-round pick. The deal was completed hours before the league's trade deadline.
Shortly after the trade was finalized, Tomlin met the media for his annual Tuesday press conference. As expected, the Steelers' coach was asked about Ingram, who will now look to help a Kansas City pass rush that is tied for last in the NFL in sacks.
"What the team needs is first and foremost," Tomlin said of the trade. "From a team perspective also, It's better to have volunteers as opposed to hostages."
Tomlin's "volunteers as opposed to hostages" line has been used in similar previous situations. One of those times was during Le'Veon Bell's holdout that ultimately resulted in Bell missing the entire 2018 season over a contract dispute. Bell's holdout was an undeniable distraction for the Steelers, who started 7-2-1 that season before losing four out of their final six games to miss the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Ingram's situation will have a far less significant impact on the Steelers, despite the fact that they have lost a veteran pass rusher who was brought to Pittsburgh to add depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. As of Tuesday afternoon, the only other outside linebacker on the Steelers' depth chart was Derrek Tuszka, a Broncos 2020 seventh-round pick who as a senior at North Dakota State was his conference's defensive player of the year.
Given the loss of Ingram, the Steelers may try to replace him via trade before today's 4 p.m. ET deadline. Regardless, it appears that the Ingram trade was an addition by subtraction for Tomlin and the Steelers. Pittsburgh will face Ingram in Week 16, when the Chiefs host the Steelers in game that could have major playoff implications.