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Monday, September 25, 2023

‘It’s Better to Have Volunteers as Opposed to Hostages’

The NFL Players Association recently released a statement on the ongoing dispute between the players and owners, saying that “It’s Better to Have Volunteers as Opposed to Hostages.” With so many people talking about how professional athletes are overcompensated for their work in recent years, it seems like everyone has an opinion on this topic. So what do you think? Is it better to have volunteers or hostages?

The “volunteers” is a phrase that has been used to describe the hostages who were released from the town of Khost, Afghanistan. The phrase was first coined by John Kerry in 2008.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who are at 4-3, have fallen significantly short of expectations this season. Nonetheless, the optimism around the club and organization seems to be positive, particularly in light of the team’s recent performance.

However, the club was able to complete a transaction before the NFL trade deadline. After signing Melvin Ingram in the summer, the Steelers traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs for a sixth-round draft selection on Tuesday.

Ingram’s time in Pittsburgh was brief, but the former Pro Bowler expressed a desire to play elsewhere, which the Steelers quickly granted.

However, after trading Ingram to the reigning AFC Champions, head coach Mike Tomlin was candid about the issue and said some fascinating things about it.

Melvin Ingram’s stay with the Steelers was brief.

This is a good example of a player requesting to be traded after a brief stay. Ingram looked into free agency this past summer but didn’t get much attention.

Despite interest from the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Steelers pulled him in and signed him to a one-year contract. So the Chiefs finally get their guy and only have to part with a 6th-round selection in the NFL Draft in 2022.

For the Steelers, Ingram only appeared in one game, recording five tackles and one sack. After openly expressing his intention to go, the writing was on the wall for a deal.

Melvin Ingram, as reported by @RapSheet this weekend, wants out of Pittsburgh after seeing his playing time reduced. KC is said to have made an offer, but the #Steelers want not to trade him to an AFC club. Is it possible that the #Cardinals would be a decent trade partner?

October 28, 2021 — Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala)

It didn’t take long for the Steelers to locate a trade partner, and now Ingram will join the Chiefs in the hopes of reviving a squad that has been struggling for a long time.

After the deadline agreement, Mike Tomlin makes a surprising announcement.

Melvin Ingram and Steelers HC Mike Tomlin. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Melvin Ingram | Timothy T Ludwig/Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Following the trade announcement, Tomlin gathered his team and talked with media on a variety of topics. The Steelers’ head coach, on the other hand, dropped another gold nugget of a sentence. He was brutally honest about the team’s requirements and meeting the expectations of players like Ingram (h/t The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette).

“First and foremost, the squad must… But, from a team standpoint, it’s preferable to have volunteers rather than hostages.”

After approving Melvin Ingram’s trade request, Mike Tomlin

Tomlin isn’t to blame, either. After all, this isn’t the first time he’s encountered a scenario like this. Furthermore, Tomlin mentioned how much he enjoyed working with Ingram throughout their brief time together.

Mike Tomlin, the coach of the #Steelers, says he loved working with Melvin Ingram, but also points out that personality matches may be hit-or-miss in free agency, stating, “That’s why we develop via the draft.” And then he mentions the hostage/volunteer situation!

November 2, 2021 — Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala)

This is again another illustration of how tough it is to find the proper fit in free agency for both individuals and teams. The names LaGarrette Blount and James Harrison spring to mind, and everyone is aware of the Le’Veon Bell debacle.

Regardless, Ingram is out, and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t seem pleased with the outcome.

The Pittsburgh defense should be able to overcome Ingram’s absence with ease.

At the edge, the pass rush win rate is high (Rank)

T.J. Watt has a 28 percent chance of winning (2nd) Alex Highsmith has a 23 percent chance of winning (9th) Melvin Ingram has an 8% chance of winning (Would have been 55th if qualified)

The Steelers don’t lose anything by dealing Ingram since they already have another good pass rusher in the form of Watt.

(ESPN Next Gen Stats / NFL Next Gen Stats)

November 2, 2021 — Seth Walder (@SethWalder)

The enthusiasm grew when the Steelers signed Ingram in the summer. On paper, pairing him with TJ Watt was a winning combination. Ingram, on the other hand, did not live up to the hype. Alex Highsmith, on the other hand, outplayed Ingram.

With 19 sacks, the Pittsburgh defense ranks eighth in the NFL. Watt, who has 8.5 sacks, is largely responsible for this.

Given the volunteers and hostages cited by Tomlin, it’s no wonder that Pittsburgh moved quickly to accommodate Ingram’s request and reach an agreement before the deadline.

The Steelers have won three consecutive games after a shaky start to the season, with two winnable games remaining against the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. After a poor start to the year, there may be reason for optimism in Pittsburgh.

Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.

RELATED: Before it’s too late, a disgruntled Pro Bowler may help Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs turn their season around.

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