A Saints offseason that almost seemed too perfect hit a major snag Tuesday. The NFL handed them their first dose of adversity when they suspended Mark Ingram for the first four games of the season for a PED violation.
In a world where timing is everything, Ingram’s couldn’t have been worse for both himself and his team.
For the Saints, they lose their leading rusher and one of the most respected leaders in the locker room for the first quarter of the season. On the field, Ingram is playing the best football of his career. He hasn’t missed a game in two seasons, is coming off back-to-back thousand-yard seasons and has grown into a true three-down back that can do it all. He led the team with 288 (230 carries + 58 catches) offensive touches last season and is one of the best in league at picking up the blitz.
The team will now have to get by with: Alvin Kamara, Jonathan Williams, Daniel Lasco, Trey Edmunds and sixth round pick Boston Scott. Sure, Kamara is electric and will no doubt have a huge impact. But Ingram brought a different skillset and ‘boom and zoom’ worked a whole lot better as a pair. Veteran options are limited but that route is a possibility as well.
For Ingram, it’s his last big contract year. He even switched agents this offseason in hopes of landing a new deal. According to Ian Rapaport, Ingram wasn’t going to show up for OTA’s which could be a sign that he was going to force the organization’s hand and hold out until he got the contract he wanted. This suspension severely weakens that leverage. It seems highly unlikely the Saints would give in to any contract demands now that Ingram will be gone for the first quarter of the season.
It all adds up to a lose-lose scenario.
But though it’s a blow, this can be overcome. The Saints are deep enough to navigate the first four games without Ingram, and fortunately they’ll have some time to figure out how to handle life without him.
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