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Saints 2016 Year in Review: Tim Hightower

Hightower was great in 2016, but might be playing for a new team next year.

New Orleans Saints v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Running Back Tim Hightower was signed to a reserve/futures contract in 2015, and was primarily to serve as RB Mark Ingram’s backup.

Mark Ingram signed a four-year, $16 million contract in 2015. Ingram is obviously the long-term plan at Running Back for the Saints, so Hightower was never going to play over Ingram absent an injury. Or at least that was the thought. After Ingram had multiple fumbles in back-to-back games, Hightower was the starter in Week 8, where he put up 102 yards against the stingy Seahawks defense.

The following week in San Francisco, both he and Ingram were featured against a terrible 49ers run defense, where Hightower put up 87 yards and a touchdown. He would fail to come close to this number the rest of the season, with his only other notable performance coming against his former team, the Arizona Cardinals, where he had only 48 total yards from scrimmage, but punched it into the end zone twice.

All-in-all, Hightower totaled 548 rushing yards in the season, averaging 4.12 yards per carry and four rushing TDs. He also added an extra 200 yards in the air, with one TD, which came on this pass from WR (!!!) Willie Snead against the Los Angeles Rams.

At 30 years old, Hightower is no spring chicken, but that isn’t to say he doesn’t have at least a couple of serviceable years left. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see Hightower get a chance to compete for a starting role (or at least a bigger role in the offense) for another team in the NFL.

With money and years tied up in Mark Ingram, and Hightower not with the profile of the scat-back that Sean Payton loves (a la Darren Sproles, C.J. Spiller, and Reggie Bush), there isn’t much of a place on the Saints roster for Hightower except as Ingram’s back-up. Unfortunately for the Saints, Hightower might have just played himself out of a backup role, or at least our of a back-up running back’s salary, with his limited play in New Orleans. Good for Tim. Now the Saints might need to look for a backup elsewhere.