The Saints and RB Latavius Murray reportedly agreed to a 4-year $14.4M contract this morning likely meaning that Mark Ingram and New Orleans were not able to reach a deal. We’ve been preparing for this possibility since the end of the season, but it should come to no surprise that the Saints and Ingram held firm to their price tags. Ingram, who turns 30 at the end of the regular season, is in line for one more big payday. The Saints on the other hand are cash strapped and needed to get Ingram to agree to a price they could afford. That $3.6M bargain of a price Murray was signed far is likely near half of what Ingram and his agent can get elsewhere. (Larry Holder of the Athletic reports hearing $7.5M APY at the Combine.) With the Ravens, Jets, Raiders, Lions, and Packers all having been connected to Ingram this week, there are higher-paid pastures out there for the, until now, career-long Saint and it looks like they’re willing to foot the bill as the Ravens are reportedly nearly an $8M APY agreement.
Fans and players aren’t taking the news particularly lightly but there is good news here. Firstly, Mark Ingram is going to head to another organization and get the payday he deserves. Secondly, the Saints landing Latavius Murray helps to soften the blow as he’s a solid and experienced satellite back with very little wear and tear. Murray will also turn 30 at the end of the season but hasn’t been in the league but for five years compared to Ingram’s eight. Murray also has 422 fewer carries than Ingram on his career and is coming off of a career high PFF grade of 76.2 (Ingram was a 79.4) and yards after contact with 2.89. Credit to ASC Contributor Dominik Kędzierawski (@dkedzierawski) for those figures. Just looking at last year’s production you can see why the Saints were comfortable with Murray as the replacement.
Mark Ingram 2018 Stats – 12 Games (6 Starts)
138 Carries, 645 Yards, 6 Rushing Touchdowns | 21 Receptions, 170 Yards, 0 Receiving Touchdowns (3 Fumbles)
Latavius Murray 2018 Stats – 16 Games (6 Starts)
140 Carries, 578 Yards, 6 Rushing Touchdowns | 22 Receptions, 141 Yards, 0 Receiving Touchdowns (0 Fumbles)
The production between the two veteran backs is eerily close. Hopefully meaning that the Saints won’t miss a ton of production without Ingram splitting carries. However, I don’t expect that Murray will be given the same workload as Ingram who played 33% of snaps while missing four games. It’s the general expectation that Alvin Kamara will be considered the feature back going in to 2019. He handled that role well at the top of 2018 accounting for 611 total yards and 6 total touchdowns (5 on the ground).
There’s no use pretending that there’s no reason to be upset over Ingram’s departure. He’s been a Saint his entire career and wanted to badly to end it that way. But the fact of the matter is that this seems to be what’s best for both parties. The worst part for the fans is easily watching Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara be split apart. The two have made history as a pair becoming the first duo to both compile more than 1,500 scrimmage yards in 2017. That came after they hit the books by both going over 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns each. Both backs were also elected to the Pro Bowl as the first pair of running backs to do in 42 years. I’m sure that they’ll find a way to continue to cut up and have fun together from across the league. Look for Ingram to find a new landing spot very soon as he likely won’t be on the market for long and has been receiving larger offers elsewhere. In the meantime, get ready for a new look backfield behind Drew Brees and celebrate the return of future QB1 Teddy Bridgewater.
Follow Ross on Twitter @RossJacksonASC