A lot of questions are going through the Saints’ organization. However, one of the more significant issues is what to do with Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram.
He’s coming off of his best season since being drafted by New Orleans. He put up career highs in rushes (230), rushing yards (1,124), rushing touchdowns (12), catches (58), and receiving yards (416). For any player, this wouldn’t mean any cause for the team to consider dealing the former Heisman winner.
But Ingram is going into a contract year and is serving a four-game suspension to begin the 2018 season. Plus with the emergence of Alvin Kamara in his rookie year, the team might need to consider looking into the future without the Alabama product.
So is it time for the Saints to deal Ingram?
Why should they trade Ingram?
As mentioned before, Ingram brings a lot of value as a running back and is only improving with each season. He’s coming off of his second-straight 1,000-yard season and is showing more value as a receiver out of the backfield.
He will only continue his ascension if traded to a team that’s in desperate need of running back help. And with Ingram’s improvement in the passing game as both a receiver and a blocker, organizations should consider him for a trade.
Plus, it would allow the team to utilize Kamara more into the offense as the primary back. His versatility in his first season shows why he’s a perfect fit in Sean Payton’s offense. The former Tennessee Volunteer earned offensive rookie of the year honors as he put together a 14-touchdown season that included eight rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns on offense. He also racked up 1,554 scrimmage yards with 826 of them through the air and put up a league-leading 6.1 yards per carry.
New Orleans can get something significant in return for the two-time Pro Bowler whether it be a player to help out on the defense or a high draft pick. But what’s standing in the way of the Saints sending Ingram to another team?
Why shouldn’t they?
It’s going to be hard to get teams to buy into trading for a player that’s going to serve a four-game suspension to start the season. By the time Ingram becomes an active player, who knows what to expect in Week 5?
A team that had struggled in rushing last season could already find their franchise running back. Or even worse, the Saints could have a back fall to injury.
New Orleans shouldn’t give up a player of Ingram’s caliber to a trade before the season. Especially when taking into account that he’s familiar with the offense and can provide a significant change of pace to the game. Also, the depth at running back isn’t something to marvel at if he’s traded away. The team’s next two backs are Terrance West and Shane Vereen. West is a number two back who can pick up yards in short yardage situations. As for Vereen, he’s just another receiver out of the backfield.
The 5’9″ back is a talent that the Saints don’t want to give away at a low price. And unfortunately, they might have to do that if they can’t get something done before the trade deadline.
Teams that would be interested in Ingram
Any team would be happy enough to acquire someone with Ingram’s talents. Especially if they struggled in getting anything done on the offensive rushing end last year. However, here are five teams that should think about making a trade for the 2009 Heisman winner.
- Detroit: They’ve been at the bottom five for rushing yards since 2014. They haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2013. The Lions’ last 100-yard rushing game was Thanksgiving of 2013. Detroit is in desperate need of a running back that can produce.
- Oakland: This team has a lot of questions regarding the rushing game. Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin are expected to get the majority of the carries, and both are much past their primes. Ingram would be a great addition to an already stacked offensive unit.
- Seattle: The Seahawks’ rushing game was nearly non-existent at points during last year. Not a single player had at least 100 rushing attempts. Russell Wilson was the team’s leading rusher with 586 yards as the next person to him was Mike Davis with 240.
- Indianapolis: The Colts’ leading rusher from last year, Frank Gore with 961 yards, is in Miami. The leading rusher that’s returning is Marlon Mack with 358. And the only player that averaged over four yards per carry on at least 60 carries is backup QB, Jacoby Brissett with 4.1.
- Pittsburgh: This one is slightly out there, but with contract holdout talks with Le’Veon Bell not looking as if they’re going to end anytime soon, the Steelers should consider this option. Not only would they get a Pro Bowl running back that would produce for them right away, but Ingram is cheaper than Bell.
Any of these teams would be welcome to have the 215-pound back for the 2018 season. But these five will need him the most.