The Houston Texans traded away a veteran offensive player Wednesday. Just not the one the NFL was holding its breath for.
In another move in step with the organization's rebuilding youth movement, Houston traded leading rusher Mark Ingram to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for what sources said would be a pick or multiple picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The 1-6 Texans, which haven't won since a Week 1 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, are also shopping troubled and disgruntled quarterback Deshaun Watson ahead of next week's NFL trade deadline.
Houston coach David Culley has made several moves recently with an obvious eye toward the future rather than the spiraling 2021 season, including the release of veterans such as kick-returner Andre Roberts and defensive end Whitney Mercilus.
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Ingram, 31, is a former Saints first-round draft pick and a three-time Pro Bowl selection that has rushed for 7,618 career yards and 63 touchdowns. Acquired this offseason after being cut by the Baltimore Ravens, he is the Texans' leading rusher with 294 yards.
With him gone, the Texans will likely promote David Johnson to starting running back and increase the role of backup Phillip Lindsay. Houston's ground game has been anemic all season, averaging only 80 yards (30th in the NFL) and 3.3 yards per carry (32nd).
Johnson has 104 yards on 27 carries this season; Lindsay 97 and a touchdown on 38 attempts.
The Texans signed Ingram to a one-year contract with a maximum value of $3 million this offsseason. The transaction included a $500,000 signing bonus and incentive clauses that should provide motivation for the former Pro Bowl selection to revitalize his production after falling on the depth chart last year in the Ravens’ backfield. Ingram was regarded as a leader in the Texans' locker room, but the AFC South franchise is off to a 1-6 start and on a six-game losing streak.
Now, Ingram goes back to familiar territory and joins a better team.