Last week there was uncertainty about Mark Ingram’s future with the New Orleans Saints. Now we have some clarity.
According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the Saints do not intend to pick up the fifth year of Ingram’s contract, making him an unrestricted free agent in 2015. The team already exercised the option on fellow 2011 first-round pick Cam Jordan.
Saints do not intend to pick up the 5th year option on RB Mark Ingram. They’v already exercised the ’15 option on fellow ’11 pick Cam Jordan
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 29, 2014
Ingram was set to make about $5 million in 2015 if the option was picked up, which is more than the annual salary of what free-agent running backs agreed to on the market this offseason. The Saints have until May 3 to pick up the option if the team changes its mind.
This means the 2014 season could be be Ingram’s last in New Orleans. Despite being hampered by a toe injury early on, Ingram enjoyed a spectacular late-season push in which he racked up 249 yards over the final four games of 2013. This year, Ingram is expected to split carries with youngster Khiry Robinson and veteran Pierre Thomas.
Ingram, 24, never lived up to the expectations of being a first-round selection and former Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama. His best season came in 2012 when he rushed for 602 yards and five touchdowns. In three seasons, he totaled 1,382 yards with a 4.1 yard per carry average and has played a full season just once.
The Saints could opt to decline Ingram’s option then try to re-sign him, though it’s unlikely the team will want to pay him much more than they are this season, when he’s slated to earn just under $1.4 million — that is, however, barring a breakout campaign this coming year.
During the 2013 season, there were rumors Ingram wanted out of New Orleans via trade. It’s unclear whether Ingram would want to re-sign with the team or seek another opportunity elsewhere. The Saints may trade to find his replacement in the middle or late rounds in May’s draft.