Defensive end Melvin Ingram announced his presence on his first play with the Kansas City Chiefs, driving a blocker backward into Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love and forcing an incomplete pass.
Ingram had one sack in nine games during the regular season and two more in the playoffs, but the Chiefs' fortunes -- as a team and defensively -- changed after his midseason arrival in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had one of the biggest plays of the Chiefs' season during Week 18 in Denver, when he forced a fourth-quarter fumble that was returned by teammate Nick Bolton for the winning touchdown against the Broncos.
Ingram, a potential free agent, had enough impact that as the Chiefs assess what they can afford this offseason, they must also ask: Can they afford to let him go?
Improving the pass rush is a priority for the Chiefs after they slipped to 29th in the NFL in sacks with 31. Ingram said during the playoffs, "I've definitely got a lot of desire" to remain with the Chiefs and the feeling seems to be mutual.
"His leadership and his approach, I think, elevated everyone else's game," Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. "I don't think it was just a fluke that the defense kind of took off from there. We had a really good string of late-season football and I think he was a huge part of that.
"He'll go through the process of taking some time and getting with his family and seeing where he wants to play and what makes sense for him. But I do think if a guy like Melvin decides he wants to come back and play, I think that we would be at the top of his list and that's something we'll work to keep the dialogue open with."