We will be reviewing the Saints roster as it currently stands leading to free agency and the draft. Previously we looked at the quarterback position. Today? The running backs
Arguably, Ingram had his best season as a Saint. But being Mark Ingram, the season did not come without speed bumps along the way. Costly fumbles in back to back weeks, first at Kansas City then in the dome against Seattle resulted in a benching for the rest of the game.
To his credit Ingram responded with one of his best games ever at San Francisco where he ripped through the 49ers defense for 15 carries and 158 yards while adding two touchdowns. Ingram seems to run better when he runs angry and he did the for the rest of the 2016 season finally eclipsing 1000 rushing yards for the first time in his six seasons with the Saints.
He would finish with 1043 yards and over the last three seasons has become a complete every down back in an age of specialty Running Backs for certain downs.
2016 moved Ingram farther up the record books in Saints History. He’s moved into third place in all time rushing yards in Saints History trailing only Deuce McAllister and George Rodgers.
He’s 10th in all time touchdowns in team history.
Where does he go from here? Ingram has two more seasons under contract if he doesn’t make the Pro Bowl. Otherwise the last year of his contract can be voided. He is only 27 years old. He’ll be 29 when the contract runs out. So in two years the Saints will have a decision to make on what to do with a 30 year old RB. In the meantime they have a solid back in Ingram who should continue to provide 1000 yard seasons for the next two seasons.
Tim Hightower-Free Agent
Normally seeing a productive 30-year-old Running Back is like seeing Bigfoot. They just don’t exist. But the last two seasons Tim Hightower has bucked this trend. For a guy out of the NFL from 2012-2015, Hightower has proved to be a solid number two back to spell Mark Ingram.
Rushing for 548 yards and four touchdowns it was a career season reminiscent of when he first broke in with the Cardinals for Hightower. He’s now a free agent, and while I firmly believe against signing a running back of Hightower’s age, for the right price Hightower can be an asset.
Travaris Cadet-Free Agent
Another free agent who I’d like to bring back at the right price. Cadet is a versatile pass catcher out of the backfield. He’s knows the Saints system well. Cadet is not going to get many carries, but finished 2016 with 40 receptions and four touchdowns both career highs. Cadet is also the most reliable kick returner currently on the team. Which isn’t saying much and is an area that needs improvement going forward.
2016 seventh Round draft pick Lasco’s rookie year could best be called incomplete. If Hightower isn’t resigned he will be in the running to help back up Ingram. Lasco in limited action appears to be a solid special teams player.
Another seventh rounder, this time from 2015, Murphy actually regressed in 2016. Murphy had a solid pre season and looked to build off an uneven 2015 where he returned a punt for a touchdown but also had issues with fumbles.
Murphy’s 2016 can be summed up in only three games of action. Week 1 versus Oakland after a tw0-point conversion gave Oakland the lead late in the game. A celebration penalty forced Oakland to kickoff 15 yards farther.
The Saints should of received good field position however a muff on the kickoff by Murphy resulted with the ball inside their own 20. Time would run out on the Saints missing a 61 yard field goal by Will Lutz.
Another poor kickoff return stepping out of bounds at the one yard line at Carolina effectively ended Murphy’s season. These mistakes along with the fact that Travaris Cadet does the same type work only better then Murphy, will make it easy for the Saints to move on from the former seventh rounder.
Next: Wide Receivers