October 29th, 2021 at 12:35pm CST by Zachary Links
The Saints only gave up a 2024 seventh-round draft pick in their trade for Mark Ingram (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). The Texans — in the midst of a major reboot — effectively moved the running back in a salary dump.
Ingram has also inked a brand new deal with his old pals (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). Ingram is now signed through 2022 thanks to a one-year extension that could pay up to $2.8M next year. He’ll also take a haircut for this year — his salary has gone from $1.5MM to $1.075MM while his per-game bonuses have been wiped out. Ultimately, he’ll carry a cap charge of just ~$657K for the Saints this year. Next season, he’ll collect $1.5MM in salary, plus a $300K roster bonus, $500K total in per-game perks, and another $500K in potential incentives.
The 2011 first-rounder spent the first eight seasons of his career in New Orleans, tallying 55 total touchdowns. In those last two Saints years, he formed one of the league’s best RB duos with Alvin Kamara. He’ll look to recapture that magic again as the Saints try and lessen Kamara’s workload. So far this year, Kamara is averaging 19 rushing attempts per game, up from the 11.2 totes per contest he averaged previously.
Ingram is expected to make his New Orleans re-debut on Halloween when the Saints host the Buccaneers.
With a 1-6 record, the Texans have started to deal off some veterans…and it sounds like one of their locker room leaders is unhappy about the direction of the squad. Following tonight’s trade that sent Mark Ingram to New Orleans, Texans wideout Brandin Cooks took to Twitter to show his displeasure.
This obviously isn’t a great look for an organization that considers Cooks to be both a leader and a foundational piece (per ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter). From Cooks’ perspective, the frustration makes some sense; per Aaron Wilson (on Twitter), Cooks and Ingram are “very close friends.”
The Texans have moved on from their starting RB, they’re expected to trade franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson, and they recently put defensive leader Zach Cunningham on the trading block. While the front office apparently has future plans for Cooks, there’s no denying that he’s one of the organization’s best trade chips (especially considering he’s only owed $1.5MM for the rest of the season, per ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter). Earlier today, the 28-year-old had a much more measured response when asked about potentially being traded (via Wilson on Twitter).
“At the end of the day, guys know it’s a business,” said Cooks. “We go to do the best we can. All that type of stuff takes care of itself. It’s a decision that’s out of your control.”
Despite the uncertainty at the quarterback position, Cooks has still put up solid numbers in 2021. Through the first seven games, the veteran wideout has hauled in 45 receptions for 502 yards (albeit with only one touchdown).
Mark Ingram is heading back to where his NFL career started. The Texans are trading the veteran running back to the Saints, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). Terms of the deal are still being finalized, but Pelissero tweets that it’s expected to “involve late-round future picks.”
Ingram was a first-round pick by the Saints back in 2011, and he proceeded to spend the first eight seasons of his career in New Orleans. He saw time in 106 regular season games (63 starts) during his first stint with the organization, collecting 55 total touchdowns. During his final two years in New Orleans, Ingram formed one of the league’s best running back tandems with Alvin Kamara, something the duo will be looking to recreate for a second time.
Ingram inked a three-year deal with the Ravens in 2019 but only made it through two seasons with the organization. He caught on with the Texans this past offseason and proceeded to start each of their first seven games, collecting 318 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown.
The Saints have been looking for a running back that could help to lessen their starter’s workload. Kamara is currently averaging 19 rushing attempts per game, which is a significant jump from the 11.2 attempts per game he averaged through his first four seasons in the NFL. Ingram should slide right into that second spot on the RB depth chart, and he’ll push the likes of Dwayne Washington, Devine Ozigbo, Tony Jones Jr. (who’s on injured reserve), and practice squad backs Lamar Miller and Ryquell Armstead further down the pecking order.
The 1-6 Texans are beginning their fire sale, so it’s not a surprise that they’ve decided to move on from their 31-year-old starting running back. Of course, the team’s depth chart at the position still consists of veterans, including David Johnson and Rex Burkhead.
Houston has been busy beefing up their running backs room, and they just signed Rex Burkhead last month. It’s now “unlikely” that the team will keep all of Ingram, Burkhead, David Johnson, and Phillip Lindsay, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com writes. Since she notes the Texans just restructured Johnson’s contract this offseason which gave him more guaranteed money for 2021, Barshop says he’ll “probably make the team”
That could make Ingram the “odd man out.” Ingram got a $500K signing bonus from Houston, but it sounds like they might end up eating that. Lindsay is only 26 and has shown plenty of flashes with the Broncos, so his spot on a rebuilding team that needs younger guys should be assured.
That likely means Ingram and Burkhead will be battling it out for one roster spot, so either way it seems as if one well-known veteran will be getting the axe. Ingram will turn 32 in December and had a down year last season, but was a Pro Bowler as recently as 2019.
He spent the first eight years of his career with the Saints before ending up in Baltimore for the last two. Burkhead turned 31 last week and spent the past four seasons in a part-time role with the Patriots.
Houston has agreed to sign running back Mark Ingram to a one-year deal, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Per Schefter, the deal is worth “up to” $3MM, presumably indicating he’ll need to hit some incentives to get that full number. Ingram was cut by the Ravens back in January. Ingram will get a $500K signing bonus, and has $250K incentives for hitting both 750 and 1,000 yards rushing, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
The Texans recently cut Duke Johnson while coming to a new agreement with David Johnson, who Ingram will now presumably split carries with. Houston really values their running backs, pulling off several trades for runners in recent years. With a duo of Johnson (29) and now Ingram (31), it won’t exactly be the most youthful backfield in 2021. The 28th overall pick of the 2011 draft, Ingram spent the first eight years of his career with the Saints.
He then spent the past two seasons in Baltimore, and will now head off to Houston for his 11th pro campaign. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner wasn’t very productive last year, but in 2019 he was a Pro Bowler and rushed for 1,018 yards and ten touchdowns while averaging five yards per attempt.
With the Ravens drafting J.K. Dobbins early last year he fell out of favor in the rotation, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing left to contribute. It’ll be interesting to see what his usage is like next to Johnson.
Per league rules, Ingram would have been barred from taking the field for any playoff team that claimed him this week. However, after passing through the waiver wire, he’s postseason-eligible. The Bills, for example, sign Ingram today and have him on the field for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs.
The Ravens made Ingram a healthy scratch in each of their playoff games this year. Once they were eliminated, they released Ingram to save $5MM against the 2021 cap and allow him to catch on elsewhere. The Ravens could have waited until mid-February or March to do the same thing, but they wanted to give Ingram and other players like Robert Griffin III an opportunity to win a championship.
Ingram, 31, finished out with just 72 carries for 299 yards in nine games. It was the worst season of his career, but he did still manage 4.2 yards per tote. The Bills, who have lacked consistency on the ground, could use someone like that. And, for what it’s worth, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh believes that he still has gas left in the tank.
“He’ll still play, I guarantee you,” Harbaugh said (via AL.com). “Mark and I had this conversation. He has plenty of football left. He’s going to contribute next year and beyond in the [NFL]…He’s a very good player, a very physical back. I remember when we played him the last time we played the Saints, and you see a guy on tape, and then he ran up our sideline and hit a couple guys on the sideline and popped up. And I looked at him, I was like, ‘This guy is physical, man. This guy is a tank.’ And he also had great feet. I was really impressed with him. Then we got him here, and I got to see it close up.”
Meanwhile, the Ravens will build their running game around J.K. Dobbins, who averaged an eye-popping 6.0 yards per carry in his rookie season.
Ingram, who now has an early jump on free agency, believes he still has plenty of football left in the tank. The Ravens did not agree, making him a healthy scratch in both of their playoff games this year.
Ingram, 31, is coming off of his worst statistical season. Limited to nine games, he finished out with just 72 carries for 299 yards — both career lows. For what it’s worth, he was still rather efficient, running for 4.2 yards per carry in the Ravens’ high-powered offense. He also has a solid track record with 9,200+ career all-purpose yards. The bulk of those yards came with the Saints, where he topped 7,500 total yards across eight years.
The vet made a mark in his first Ravens season, rushing for 1,018 yards and ten touchdowns, plus a 26/257/5 receiving line. This year, he lost his spot in the pecking order to rookie J.K. Dobbins, who projects as Baltimore’s top back for 2021. Gus Edwards also shined in Ingram’s stead, managing 700+ rushing yards in the regular season.
Ingram’s release will leave $1.3MM in dead money against the Ravens’ 2021 cap, the balance of his prorated bonus.
Multiple standout defensive linemen will be back in action in Week 13, and although the Ravens still have several players on their reserve/COVID-19 list, their roster is no longer as depleted as it was Wednesday.
Baltimore’s coronavirus list still houses 10 players, including Lamar Jackson, but the team will have multiple starters back at practice soon. The Ravens activated Calais Campbell, Mark Ingram and defensive lineman Jihad Ward from their virus list. Ingram was eligible to play against the Steelers on Wednesday, but the Ravens held him out. A five-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has not played since Nov. 8 due to a calf strain.
The 11-0 Steelers will have Stephon Tuitt back in action when they face Washington on Monday. They activated the seventh-year starter from their reserve/COVID list. Three Steelers remain on the virus list, including starters James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey.
Pricey trade acquisition DeForest Buckner came off the Colts‘ virus list as well. Buckner landed on Indianapolis’ COVID list after testing positive for the virus in late November. The Colts, who allowed the Titans to rush for 229 yards in Buckner’s absence last week, also removed Jonathan Taylor from their virus list.
The Ravens announced Saturday that four strains of the coronavirus were present in their building. While the team believes it contained three of those strains, the fourth ended up spreading to the point it forced the NFL to postpone the team’s Steelers rematch three times. Ten straight days commenced with at least one Raven testing positive for the virus, and the team had as many as 23 players on its reserve/COVID list at the height of the outbreak. Four straight days, however, have passed without a Ravens positive test.