The New Orleans Saints have a number of pending free agents, so there are plenty of options for the free agent that should be the top priority for the Saints to bring back. Teddy Bridgewater? Dez Bryant? Alex Okafor? Tyeler Davison?
Well, when Bleacher Report listed the top free agent for each team to sign, it wasn’t any of the above. It was Mark Ingram:
According to Fox 8 News in New Orleans, the first preference of tailback Mark Ingram is to remain in New Orleans, where he’s 89 yards shy of overtaking Deuce McAllister as the team’s all-time leading rusher.
That should be the Saints’ preference, as well.
Yes, both Ingram’s usage and production were down in 2018. With Alvin Kamara taking over a larger role in the offense, Ingram gained just 645 yards on the ground after topping 1,000 each of the last two years. It was Ingram’s lowest total since 2013.
But on a per-touch basis, Ingram was still highly effective, averaging 4.7 yards a carry. It marked the fourth straight season that he’s averaged over 4.5 yards a pop.
This is going to come down to cold hard cash. If there’s a team out there that believes Ingram can function as its bell-cow back, it may offer a contract that will be out of the Saints’ price range for a complementary ball-carrier.
But with Ingram set to turn 30 in December, it’s equally possible that teams will be skittish about a big payday for the eight-year veteran—which would open the door for the Saints to keep Ingram around as the “Thunder” to offset Kamara’s “Lightning.”
Don’t fix what isn’t broken—especially with the Saints hip-deep in win-now mode.
It makes sense.
We saw the Saints struggle in the run game without Mark Ingram through the first four games of the 2018 season. This offense just clicks with Ingram in the backfield to pair with friend and teammate, Alvin Kamara.
Obviously, it would still be great if the Saints could re-sign the likes of Bridgewater and Okafor in addition to Ingram, but it’s hard to disagree with the idea that Ingram is the most important for 2019.