Saints running back Mark Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy, according to multiple reports.
Ina Rapoport of NFL.com reports New Orleans may have tried gauging trade interest in Ingram since he is going into the final year of his deal, but with the suspension looming, it has made it much harder to put anything together. Rapoport adds that Ingram will likely remain away from the team during conditioning and OTAs, but will return for mandatory workouts.
Ingram was drafted by the Saints in the first round in 2011 and has established himself as the team's lead back over the past few years. He had his first career 1,000-yard season in 2016 and followed that up with another one in 2017. He also earned his second Pro Bowl bid last season after rushing for career-highs with 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Along with Ingram, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget, Raiders offensive lineman Vader Alexander and free agent quarterback Mark Sanchez are also facing four-game suspensions to open the 2018 season.
What This Means for the Saints
New Orleans opens its season with home games against the Buccaneers and Browns, then has a pair of road games against the Falcons and Giants. The team will likely lean heavily on second-year back Alvin Kamara with Ingram out. Kamara was also a Pro Bowler last season after rushing for 728 yards and eight touchdowns while also catching 81 passes for 826 yards and five more scores.
However, in two games against Atlanta last season, Kamara had just 34 rushing yards on 13 attempts to go with 10 catches for 83 yards and he failed to see the end zone. In his games against Tampa Bay, he ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries and had 12 grabs for 168 yards and another touchdown. The Saints went 2-2 in those four games.