Nov 30, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Saints won 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Saints face an offseason of uncertainty as the team is coming off one of their roughest seasons in years and must face the reality of an aging roster and salary cap issues that need to be addressed.
One of the brightest spots on this 2014 team was the production that the Saints were able to get from veteran running back Mark Ingram. The Saints declined to pick up his fifth-year contract option back in April, so he was essentially playing for his future on the team.
He responded with his best year as a New Orleans Saint totaling 964 rushing yards (four-straight 100-yard performances) on 226 carries and nine touchdowns. He becomes an unrestricted free agent this off-season eligible to sign with any team.
Whatever team signs Ingram, it should not be the New Orleans Saints. Ingram certainly had a good year with the Saints, but the team doesn’t need him anymore.
The most successful back in Sean Payton’s scheme was never Deuce McCallister or Reggie Bush; it was Pierre Thomas. The shifty back has a perfect combination of power to run the ball and balance to operate as a screen back.
Thomas gave the Saints the ability to run and pass out of just about any formation; a versatility that Ingram cannot provide to the offense as he relies on more zone scheme blocking to find holes to run through.
The Saints need to focus on getting a back that is more in line with the skill-set of Pierre Thomas. There are several cheaper, younger options in this upcoming NFL Draft.