Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram Will Not Become A Free Agent This Offseason

The NFL All-pro team was released today, but Saints running back Mark Ingram was not on it. Voters instead opted for Rams third-year playmaker Todd Gurley in the running back spot and the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell in the “flex” position. Without the All-pro designation, Ingram will not become a free agent this offseason, points out Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The veteran back had a clause in his contract that if he were to make the All-pro team, he would be released from his current deal and test the open market in a few months.

Mark Ingram (Featured)

Ingram, 28, has seen his career take off in the past two years. The former 2011 first round pick has rushed for over a combined 2,100 yards in 2016-2017. He had a career-high 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns this past season in New Orleans. Despite being older for running back standards, Ingram would have likely gotten a raise over his $4MM base salary for 2018.

By slightly missing out on the designation, he will remain with the team that drafted him for one more season. While unfortunate for the veteran back, this is certainly good news for the Saints considering that Ingram seems to have a lot of tread left on the tires. He should continue to be an extremely formidable backfield partner to breakout rookie running back Alvin Kamara.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mark Ingram Could Become Free Agent At Season’s End

Running back Mark Ingram, who is enjoying an excellent campaign with the surprising Saints, is under contract with New Orleans through the 2018 season as part of a four-year, $16MM deal he signed with the club in 2015 after the expiration of his rookie contract. He will be owed a $4MM base salary next season, but, as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com observes, the final year of his contract will void if Ingram is named a first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.

Mark Ingram

While that provision is not news, it is the first time that it has really come into play. Ingram has been stuck in a series of time-shares since he was selected by the Saints in the first round of the 2011 draft, and while he has ceded reps to breakout rookie back Alvin Kamara in 2017, he has still managed to keep himself among the top of the league’s running back rankings. The 27-year-old has the most rushing yards in the NFL since Week 5 (636), the most yards from scrimmage in the league since Week 6 (724) and the most rushing touchdowns since Week 2 (eight). His eight rushing scores are are tied for first in the league, and he is fourth in the league with 806 rushing yards and fourth among running backs with 1,019 yards from scrimmage. So, while a first-team All-Pro nod might be a bit of a stretch right now, it may not be if he continues at his current pace.

If Ingram were to become a free agent at the end of the season, he would join Carlos Hyde as one of the top two free agent running backs (assuming the Steelers do not let Le’Veon Bell hit the open market). While running backs have had a tough go of it in free agency in recent years, Ingram would assuredly earn more than the $4MM he is currently set to make in 2018. Barring injury, he will go over 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight year, and he is a quality receiver out of the backfield.

Assuming the Saints re-sign Drew Brees in the offseason, they may not have enough cap space to bring Ingram back if he becomes a free agent, and they would likely give Kamara a larger role under that scenario. Again, this is all just a hypothetical discussion right now, but it will be an interesting situation to monitor down the stretch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Notes: Butler, AP, Ingram, Snead

New Orleans hasn’t “really had any discussions for quite some time” about acquiring Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, according to Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, while head coach Sean Payton notes that the 27-year-old is “with New England, and I don’t think anything has changed. I don’t see anything being imminent as well (links via Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com).” Their statements came on the heels of a report suggesting the Pats are unlikely to trade Butler, whom the Saints have chased throughout the offseason. New Orleans courted Butler as a restricted free agent and even agreed to a multiyear contract with him, but the club doesn’t want to meet the Patriots’ asking price for the onetime Pro Bowler.

More from New Orleans:

  • Running back Mark Ingram posted a career year in 2016, rushing for 1,043 yards with a 5.1 YPC, catching 46 passes and combining for 10 touchdowns. Now, thanks to the Saints’ addition of seven-time Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson, Ingram will have to share a backfield with a higher-profile rusher. Nevertheless, Ingram is glad to have Peterson on the roster. “I’m all about winning, man,” Ingram said (via Teope). “If this will help us win, I’m all about winning. I’m all for it.” Ingram added that he’s “been sharing the ball with one or two, maybe three guys” since New Orleans drafted him in 2011. That has indeed been the case, as the likes of Pierre Thomas, Tim Hightower and Darren Sproles have gotten plenty of carries during the Ingram era. Hightower picked up 133 last year, for instance, but it didn’t stop Ingram from thriving.
  • Even though Peterson’s a 32-year-old coming off an injury-marred season, signing him carries little risk for the Saints, opines Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Triplett expects Peterson to have a bigger role in New Orleans than Hightower did, but he notes that Payton is excellent at allocating playing time to multiple running backs. In Triplett’s estimation, Payton’s expertise with RBs likely added to the Saints’ allure for Peterson.
  • Loomis indicated Wednesday that he’s unsure if the Saints’ contract talks with wide receiver Willie Snead will lead to a deal, though he seems optimistic. “He’s here working and I don’t anticipate issues with Willie going forward,” Loomis said (via Herbie Teope of NOLA.com). “I’m excited that he’s here. Look, he’s been a good player, a good contributor to our team and expect him to be our team for a long time.” While Snead could be on the Saints’ books at a relatively meager $615K this year in the absence of a new pact, he still hasn’t signed his exclusive rights free agent tender. Regardless, he’s not eligible for unrestricted free agency until after the 2018 season.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Short, Panthers

The Saints will ultimately have to choose between kickers Kai Forbath and Connor Barth. Unfortunately, as Evan Woodbury of NOLA.com notes, making that decision is easier said than done.

The duo have incredibly similar career numbers, and their performances during OTAs have also been rather even. Therefore, coach Sean Payton can’t solely rely on the raw numbers to make his final decision.

“These two guys are almost identical all the way back through their college years,” Payton said.

The two will have an opportunity to separate themselves during training camp, but so far, the organization is content with what they’ve seen from the pair.

“Both have experience and we feel like we’ve got a real good opportunity to come away from training camp with a good measuring stick,” Payton said. “We feel good about the way both of them are hitting it.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the NFC South…

  • As RosterResource.com shows, the Saints‘ running back depth chart is rather packed right now. Featuring Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller, Tim Hightower, Travaris Cadet, Daniel Lasco and Marcus Murphy, coach Payton could have some disgruntled players if he ultimately keeps all six running backs. “I would be disappointed if somebody wasn’t a little ticked off,” Hightower told the Associated Press. “I’m a competitor. I don’t want to come off the football field.”
  • The Eagles recently signed defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to a six-year, $103MM deal, including $55.5MM in guaranteed money. As Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer writes, this could complicate negotiations with Panthers defensive lineman Kawann Short. The 27-year-old sat out the majority of OTAs in pursuit of a new contract, although he did attend the mandatory minicamp earlier this week. For what it’s worth, Cox and Short finished with similar numbers in 2014, and Short actually rated better in Pro Football Focus’ ranking of interior defenders (subscription required).
  • The Panthers certainly recognize the difficulties of finalizing a Short extension, as coach Ron Rivera indicated the other day. “I heard about that one,” he said. “(Someone) wrote that it’s going to complicate things. And it probably will. So we’ll see how things unfold.”
  • After having seen a breakdown in contract talks with former Panthers (and current Redskins) cornerback Josh Norman, Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports sees similarities in the Short negotiations. While the writer doesn’t necessarily envision the team letting go of another starter, the presence of first-round pick Vernon Butler could make Short expendable.

Saints Restructure Mark Ingram’s Contract

The Saints continue to make changes to the contracts of players on their roster, having most recently restructured running back Mark Ingram‘s deal, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The move comes on the heels of the team also reworking Cameron Jordan‘s and Thomas Morstead‘s contracts.Mark Ingram

[RELATED: Saints sign Nick Fairley]

Ingram, who had been in line for a $3MM base salary in 2016, saw $2.235MM of that money converted into a signing bonus, reducing his base salary to just $765K. The signing bonus is prorated over the next three seasons, opening up $1.49MM in cap room for the Saints in 2016. The running back’s cap hit has been reduced from $4MM to $2.51MM, but his 2017 and 2018 cap charges have increased to $5.245MM and $6.245MM respectively.

In the short term, the move gives the Saints a little more flexibility to continue to conduct offseason business, including finalizing Nick Fairley‘s new deal with the team. After Jordan’s and Morstead’s contracts were restructured, the Saints were said to have about $3.03MM in cap room, but Fairley is set to count for $3MM against the cap, reducing the minimal flexibility New Orleans had. Ingram’s restructure gives the club a bit of breathing room.

As for the long-term ramifications of the move, with Ingram’s cap hit on the rise for 2017 and 2018, the odds of him playing out his entire contract have probably diminished. Depending on how he performs in 2016, Ingram may have his deal addressed again in some form by the Saints a year from now.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Saunders, Donnell, Ingram, Packers

Wide receiver and return man Jalen Saunders, who is on the Bears‘ practice squad IR list, just finished serving a four-game suspension, but before he could even become eligible to return to Chicago’s active practice squad, he was hit with another penalty. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Saunders has now been suspended 10 games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

The 10-game ban will mean that Saunders will miss the final four games of the 2015 season, as well as the first six games of next year. By that point, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll still be in the Bears’ plans at all, and it may be hard for the Oklahoma product, a Jets fourth-round pick in 2014, to find another team willing to take a shot on him.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Giants tight end Larry Donnell won’t play again this season, having been placed on injured reserve by the team. But at this point, there’s optimism that Donnell’s neck injury won’t be a long-term issue that impacts his career in future years, head coach Tom Coughlin said today (Twitter link via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post).
  • Having been placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, Saints running back Mark Ingram will undergo surgery to repair his torn left rotator cuff, writes Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Ingram is the second Saints running back to land on IR this season, joining Khiry Robinson on the list.
  • Packers offensive lineman Matt Rotheram is the latest practice squad player to get a raise, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com. Yates tweets that Rotheram is now earning $25,588 per week, equivalent to what he’d earn as a minimum-salary player on the active roster. Green Bay likely bumped up the lineman’s salary after he received some interest from rival teams.
  • British rugby player Tom Burgess will continue his NFL tour today with a workout for the Seahawks, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link). Burgess has already auditioned for the Steelers, Giants, Jets, and Bills, and could be in line for a reserve/futures contract at season’s end.

Saints Place Mark Ingram On IR

4:01pm: The Saints have filled Ingram’s roster spot by promoting fullback Austin Johnson from their practice squad, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

3:59pm: As feared, Mark Ingram‘s shoulder injury is serious enough to prematurely bring his 2015 season to an end. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that the Saints have placed Ingram on injured reserve, officially ruling him out for the rest of the year.

Ingram, who turns 26 later this month, posted career numbers in 2014, earning a Pro Bowl berth and a new four-year contract from New Orleans. Through 12 games, Ingram was on track for another productive year, with 769 rushing yards and six touchdowns to go along with 405 yards through the air.

In Ingram’s absence, Tim Hightower and C.J. Spiller figure to shoulder the load, with rookie Marcus Murphy potentially in the mix as well. The Saints have an open roster spot now that Ingram is on IR, though the team may not use it on a running back, with three other viable options still on the 53-man squad.

NFC South Notes: Ingram, Reed, Allen

It’s a big week in the NFC South, where the Buccaneers will try to continue pushing for a playoff spot against the Saints, while the Falcons will look to hand the Panthers their first loss of the season. Earlier today, we asked you whether Carolina will finish the season with a 16-0 record. Now, we’re checking in on some more NFC South notes. Let’s dive in…

  • Saints running back Mark Ingram is battling a serious shoulder injury, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network, who tweets that it could be a season-ender. Ingram is undergoing tests to determine the severity of the injury, tweets Ed Werder of ESPN.com.
  • After signing a five-year, $22.5MM contract that featured $9MM in guaranteed money, linebacker Brooks Reed hasn’t been able to make a major impact for the Falcons this season, and he knows it, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “All I can say is I’m working to be a better football player,” Reed said. “It’s going to take just a lot of hard at work. All I can say is that I’m working at it and it’s going to come. I promise that.”
  • Panthers defensive end Jared Allen remains under contract for next season, but he may have to undergo back surgery in the offseason, and says he’s taking every year as it comes, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). While Allen may very well continue his playing career in 2016, there’s not much chance he’ll do so on his current deal, which calls for a non-guaranteed $8.5MM salary next year.

Contract Details: Lynch, McCoy, Ingram, Paul

There were some conflicting – or at least confusing – reports on Friday night about the value of Marshawn Lynch‘s new contract with the Seahawks, and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun provides some clarity today, via Twitter. According to Wilson, Lynch’s new three-year pact is worth $31MM, which features $15MM in guaranteed money, including a $7.5MM signing bonus.

Wilson has plenty more numbers on new contract agreements, so let’s round up those updates, with all links going to his Twitter unless otherwise indicated:

Saints, Mark Ingram Agree To Deal

The Saints have re-signed running back Mark Ingram to a four-year deal, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Ingram’s new deal is worth $16MM, according to Pro Football Talk on Twitter.

This deal puts Ingram in the top 20 among running backs on a per-year basis, per OverTheCap, and pushes the Saints further onto the salary cap cliff.

Despite having the worst cap situation in the league at more than $16MM over before Ingram’s second contract was agreed upon, New Orleans will keep the bruising 25-year-old runner who is coming off his best season, one which ended in his only Pro Bowl selection.

Ingram rushed for a career-best 964 yards last season and played a much bigger role in the Saints’ offense at a career-high 226 carries. After not appearing to fit in the Saints’ up-tempo attack for three years, Ingram proved he could be a weapon last season.

The Saints have until Tuesday afternoon when the new league year officially begins to finally get back under the salary cap. New Orleans made moves to do so earlier this week when it restructured the contracts of longtime No. 1 wideout Marques Colston and 2014 free agent prize Jairus Byrd. They still need to trim a substantial amount in less than three days, however. Only two other teams — the Patriots and Chiefs — are over the cap, but those organizations are a beacon of financial restraint compared to the Saints’ current standing (OverTheCap).