The continually intriguing saga that is the professional career of New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram took an interesting turn in 2017. But first, let’s go back in time a little: Before taking even a practice snap for the Saints, the former Alabama Crimson Tide arrived in New Orleans with an uphill battle in his quest to win the Who Dat Nation over: Firstly, in Saints fans’ opinion, the team gave up too much when it traded back in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft to select Ingram with the 28th pick, giving up their second round pick that year and a first round pick in 2012. Secondly, Ingram was obviously always going to be “the running back from Bama,” for the embittered LSU fans who also root for the Saints. In other words, for him to win Saints fans over, Mark Ingram would have had to be really, really, really good. And unfortunately, be it due to injuries or mediocre play, for the first three years of his New Orleans tenure, Ingram was just good. Even worse, at times he was only serviceable. and he played for Bama. Goddammit, Bama!
For the past four seasons however, Mark Ingram has been a different player, and the past two years, maybe the difference-maker that Saints fans had always hoped he would become. Last year, Ingram recorded 205 rushing attempts, averaged 5.1 yards per rush and had 1043 yards with six touchdowns, all while sharing the rushing load with Tim Hightower. For a running back often criticized for his lack of consistency, Ingram followed up his 2016 campaign with an even better one in 2017, rushing 230 times for 1124 yards and a 4.9 yards-per-rush average. He doubled his touchdown output from 6 to 12, and added an incredible 58 receptions for 416 yards. Quite remarkable for a running back who has never really been known for his pass-catching abilities.
In 2017, Ingram also showed something that Saints and NFL fans hadn’t seen much of from the seventh-year running back: a personality. With the arrival of fellow running back and rookie Alvin Kamara, Ingram not only embraced competition in the locker room, he also started to emulate the bubbly Kamara, jumping in the crowd after scores, giving hilarious postgame interviews and showing a genuine enjoyment in playing the game, something that spread through the entire team.
I mean who doesn’t love this?
With the Saints being deceptively young on offense, it is quite striking to think that along with quarterback Drew Brees, Mark Ingram is now one of the old guys. After a remarkable 2017 campaign, not only for Ingram personally but for the Saints as a whole, the team seems poised for another two to three-year playoffs run. Ingram however, turns 29 on December 21 and will see his contract expire at the end of the 2018 season. It is undeniable that another productive year like the one he had in 2017 would likely make the Saints’ front office seriously consider re-signing him for one last deal. On the other hand, with the mythically ill-fated age of 30 for a running back looming for him, we could be seeing Mark Ingram play his last games in Black and Gold next season. If 2018 is to be a goodbye tour for the underappreciated running back, then I say: Roll Mark, Roll and give us more of this!
Should the Saints sign Ingram to an extension past the 2018 season?
This poll is closed
Yes they should, he’s been great in Black and Gold!
If he has another stellar year, then yes, to a short deal
What? No. He’ll be nearing 30 and has never been great anyway
He played for Bama, so the answer is no! LSU! LSU! LSU!
Can he outrun me after I’ve eaten 20 burgers?