In 2011, the Saints gave up a 2012 first-round pick in order to get another 2011 first-round pick, in order to draft running back Mark Ingram.
The Saints chose not to throw good money after mediocre money by extending Ingram’s contract to cover 2015. PFT has confirmed that the Saints did not exercise the fifth-year option on Ingram’s contract.
As a result, he’ll be a free agent after the 2014 season, the fourth and final year of his rookie deal.
That doesn’t mean Ingram’s days in New Orleans are numbered. It means only that they’ve opted not to commit to $5.2 million for his services two seasons from now. With the tailback market depressed, the Saints surely can get him for less than that, if they decide to keep him around.
Ingram has gained 1,462 rushing yards in three NFL seasons, with a career average of 4.1 yards per carry. But he has averaged fewer than 10 carries per game as part of a rotation that typically has featured three different running backs.
If he has a big year in 2014, the Saints may not be able to keep him. But the Saints surely would be able to get someone cheaper, younger, and healthier to join the revolving door of running backs that the Saints and many other teams now employ.