Mark Ingram carries the football, and he carries a big name. Now, he is looking for a new home after being cut by the Baltimore Ravens, just days after their divisional round playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills.
It begs the question: Should the Detroit Lions bring in the 31-year-old Ingram?
The short answer is no.
The answer is no for three main reasons.
1.) I can not recall many players who have played in Baltimore for years and then have gone somewhere else and made a significant contribution.
The Ravens are well known for doing their homework. The fact the Ravens cut their former first-rounder says a lot. It tells me one of three things: They know some damning information the rest of us do not know yet, they are just confident with what they have going forward -- and they have reason to be, given the tandem of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards having averaged over 200 yards on the ground for an eye-opening six yards-per-carry average over the last four games -- or they see just how quickly Ingram has been declining statistically, going from a 1,000-yard season in 2019 to what he put up this year.
Let’s face it. While a 4.2 yard-per-carry average looks impressive on paper, the fact that it was on 72 carries for 299 yards and only two touchdowns paints a bleak forecast.
It also tells me the Ravens did not believe Ingram had any trade value.
2.) It is a league of "who you know," not "what you know."
For as long as I can remember -- and I have been watching NFL action for 40 years -- those within the game seem to only be able to bring in people “they are familiar with." We saw this with the "Detroit Patriots," as the Lions were referred to as under former general manager Bob Quinn and former head coach Matt Patricia.
Going forward, I fully expect the Lions to take on the “football DNA" of the Rams and Saints and to sign as many players from those two teams’ scrapheaps as possible -- due to new Detroit GM Brad Holmes' and new Lions head coach Dan Campbell's ties to those respective franchises.
3.) The average NFL running back's career span is the shortest of all the positions.
NFL running backs average 2.57 years. The Lions already have a veteran running back in the stable, and he is a harder and more punishing downhill runner than Ingram. Adding another declining veteran to the mix does not make sense.
Here is my 2020 evaluation of Ingram.
#21 RB Mark Ingram II - 5-foot-9, 210 pounds (free agent)
GRADE: C (average; nothing special about the player)
Tough, determined one-gear, dual-role running back who has average-looking playing speed and relies on vision and instincts to get by at this point of his career. Ordinary looking. Non-explosive. Average get-up-and-go. No burst or second gear. Still has the physicality to his game, will lower his head and audibly pop the pads. Takes what defenses give him. Seems to be quickly on the decline. Looked noticeably better early in the season.
Best run of the season was a direct snap in Week 2 vs. HOU. Battled ankle injury, but also was a healthy scratch in a couple of games. Can sit down short as a receiving option safety valve, and has decent hands. There was nothing about him that remotely excited me from watching him play this season.
After scouting him, I think Ingram does have a little gas left in his tank. But, if he latches on to another team, it will not be with Detroit.
It will be with a team like New England who takes on veteran players, like Ingram, and gets just a little bit more juice out of them than the rest of the league. Or it will be a team with a realistic chance of reaching the Super Bowl in 2021.
Ingram is a shooting star who is quickly going out.
He wants a ring, and doesn't want to be part of a team -- like the Lions -- that is clearly rebuilding and is trading away its franchise quarterback.
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