When the news broke last night that the Saints had resigned running back Mark Ingram to a new deal, many in the Who Dat Nation were surprised. Many thought the Saints would draft a new running back or pick one up in free agency and let Ingram go. But, a deal got done and Ingram got $16 million over 4 years.
The way this deal got done was by releasing Pierre Thomas last week and by wide receiver Marques Colston taking a pay cut. While Pierre Thomas served the Saints well in the past, he was not the man you could build a rushing attack around. Mark Ingram, who rushed for 964 yards last year, is exactly the running back to build a rushing attack.
Also, giving Ingram a new deal is better than drafting a running back who would have to be developed or finding an older running back on the free agent market. Mark Ingram is the known quantity and in most cases, working with the known quantity is the best bet.
Also, without the need of using a top draft pick on a running back, the Saints can turn their attention to other positional needs. Instead of a running back, the Saints can draft a pass rusher or even the next franchise quarterback.
The resigning of Mark Ingram is the acknowledgment of the reality that the Drew Brees era is slowly coming to an end in New Orleans. Drew Brees is 36 and probably doesn’t have too many great years left as an NFL quarterback. Also, gone are the days that Drew Brees can carry the entire team on his back and the Saints can neglect the running game. In fact, there is a good argument for trading Drew Brees for some younger prospects because of his high salary. At the very least, the Saints should ask Drew Brees to take a pay cut, especially given his declining performance over the past couple of years.
The Sean Payton-Drew Brees era has been the best stretch for the New Orleans Saints in franchise history. But, like all things, it must come to an end and the end is coming. This is an acknowledgment that Drew Brees can no longer carry the team on his own and that the Saints need a potent running game. Mark Ingram is the running back who can carry the Saints offense.
This will allow the Saints to transition in a new quarterback and prolong Brees’ career. A strong running game will take some of the pressure off of Brees. Plus, it will give the Saints more weapons on offense.
Given where the Saints are now and where they need to go, keeping Mark Ingram made way too much sense.