- Mark Ingram's four-game suspension couldn't have come at a worse time in the 28-year-old running back's career. He's on the last year of his contract and trying to prove he can keep pace with Alvin Kamara
Mark Ingram’s four game suspension is bad news for the Saints offense, and worse news for the two-time Pro Bowler’s long-term future. Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy.
After a rough start to his career where he had a small role sharing carries with Pierre Thomas and Darren Spoles, Ingram had found his footing as a well-rounded back in recent years. This suspension comes at a critical moment in his career. He’s trying to earn a contract extension and prove he can keep up with the offensive rookie of the year Alvin Kamara.
The timing of the suspension couldn’t be worse, because according to NFL.com, Ingram wants to get a new contract done with New Orleans. He’s going into the last year of his deal, and will turn 30 during the 2019 season, putting him right at that age where running backs lose value. This suspension certainly won’t help him in negotiations with the Saints, and after Kamara’s breakout performance last season, it’s clear that Ingram will not be the Saints feature back going forward. Because he’s on his rookie deal, Kamara is not only the more talented back, but he’s also the best value for the Saints. He’ll make $635,000 in base salary in 2018 compared to $4 million for Ingram.
The Saints had the ideal situation at running back last season with the one-two punch of Ingram and Kamara. New Orleans mixed them frequently in the run game and passing game and the duo became the first pair of backs on the same team to each surpass 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season and Ingram had a career year with 1,124 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns and 58 catches for 416 yards.
By late last season, Kamara took on slightly more of the workload than Ingram. And now with Ingram out for the first quarter of the season, the Saints will rely on their young star even more. Aside from Kamara, the Saints have little depth at the position. They’ll also count on a group of largely unknown and untested running backs: rookie sixth-round pick Boston Scott, Trey Edmunds (nine carries, one touchdown as a rookie in 2017), Jonathan Williams (practice squad in 2017) and Daniel Lasco (practice squad/IR in 2017).
Per Pro Football Focus, the 5-7 Scott had the fourth highest elusiveness rating among all draft-eligible running backs and averaged 3.9 yards per carry after contact. Scott said that during the draft process, teams compared him to Darren Sproles, because of his size and speed. Scott will likely be asked to do more than his expected punt returner duties until Ingram returns. If the Saints decide to add a running back in free agency, some veterans are still available as of publish time include Eddie Lacy, DeMarco Murray, Alfred Morris, and Shane Vereen.
And just in case you’ve been snoozing this offseason, here are some other notable four-game suspensions to start 2018:
- Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict
- Panthers LB Thomas Davis
- Chargers DT Corey Liuget
- Raiders OL Vadal Alexander
- Free-agent QB Mark Sanchez
NOW ON THE MMQB:
Andy Benoit hands out true draft grades for the 2014 NFL draft … The Eagles made just one selection in the first 124 picks—and that wasn’t an issue for GM Howie Roseman. Jonathan Jones on Philadelphia’s player depth.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:
Robert Klemko on what Ben Roethlisberger should have learned from Tommy Maddox.
1. Kurt Warner actually talked to an NFL coach about playing THIS season….
2. Former Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril has taken a radio job in Seattle. Avril had a serious neck injury last season and can’t play football again until he’s medically cleared by his doctors, so he’s come to terms with calling it a career.
3. Two former Detroit Lions employees who claim they experienced unequal treatment because of their race have filed suit against the team, alleging they were fired because of racial and age discrimination.
4. Tony Romo penned a letter to his celebrate his pal Jason Witten's retirement.
Chicago’s first round pick Roquan Smith reported that his Bears-issued iPad was stolen from his car. Sorry Packers fans, the Bears were quick to wipe all classified information from the device.
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