The NFL's "legal tampering" period began on Monday afternoon, when teams could begin negotiating with perspective free agents before the official signing period commences this afternoon. While teams throughout the league were throwing money like monopoly dollars, the New Orleans Saints have remained somewhat quiet, much to the dismay of some fans. After months of worry and speculation, it does appear as if the Saints will lose longtime running back Mark Ingram, who is expected to sign a contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
Once negotiations with Ingram apparently broke down, news broke on Tuesday that the Saints had reportedly reached an agreement with running back Latavius Murray on a 4-yr. deal worth a little more than 14 million dollars. The 29 year old Murray, who came into the league as a 6th round draft pick by Oakland in 2014 out of Central Florida, has spent the last two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He rushed for 2,278 yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons with the Raiders, including a 1,066-yd./6 score outing in 2015 that earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. Upon joining the Vikings, he rushed for 842 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2017, followed by 578 yards and six scores in a reduced role a year ago. Murray is a big back at 6'3, 230-lbs. with a good burst in the open field and a nose for the end zone, having scored 34 career touchdowns. He has averaged 4.1 yards per carry, and is an adequate pass receiver and blocker, although not nearly as versatile as Ingram. Murray and Ingram, both 29, have had similarly light workloads and roughly the same productive their careers. Alvin Kamara will be a focal point of the offense, but the expectation is that Murray will fill a similar role as Ingram.
Numerous sources also reported on Tuesday that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater intended on re-signing with New Orleans. Details of the contract had not yet been released, but reports were that Bridgewater had spurned a larger offer from the Miami Dolphins to return to New Orleans. The 26-yr. old signal caller was the 32nd overall pick of the 2014 draft out of Louisville by the Minnesota Vikings, and led them to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 2015. After recovering from a career threatening knee injury suffered in 2016, he had signed with the New York Jets as a free agent last offseason. New Orleans traded a 3rd round pick in the upcoming draft to acquire Bridgewater prior to the start of the 2018 season, where he played behind future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, seeing some mop-up action before starting the season finale. Bridgwater has completed 64.6% of his career attempts for 6,628 yards with 29 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions. His return stabilizes the team's backup spot behind Brees, as well as giving them a proven starter in the event that Brees elects to retire after the 2019 season. Bridgwater joins linebacker Craig Robertson, defensive backs Justin Hardee and Chris Banjo, and kicker Wil Lutz in re-signing with the Saints thus far. These signings are vital to the depth of one of the best rosters in the NFL, as well as hopefully replacing the production by Ingram's loss. Several players are still available, as the league's signing period officially begins at 4 p.m. today, as the Saints may still look to fill a few positions of need before next month's draft.
Which is the most important Saints signing so far?
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