The Internal Screams Of Saints' Fans Can Be Heard From Space, As Mark Ingram Just Signed With The Ravens For A Repulsively Fair Price
Half a million dollars per season. That's it. That's all.
There was one thing capable of putting out the fire that was sparked in Saints' fans when they indirectly learned of a beloved, long-time team leader having already worn the Fleur-de-lis for the final time. That thing was an absolute albatross of a contract would allow everyone to be happy that Mark Ingram finally secured his long-overdue bag, as well as glad that the cap-strapped team with which he grew from a scapegoat to a galvanizing force - both on and off the field - didn't meet the contractual demands of a 29 year old running back. Twenty-one million over three years, or something north of it, and I'd be able to stomach the idea of Latavius Murray taking over the reigns that he'll never be able to pull as prominently as the player he's replacing. Instead, an integral piece of a Super Bowl caliber team has a new home due to a breakup over the monetary equivalent of trivial matters. Half a million dollars per season. That was ultimately the disparity, as if the thought of Mark Ingram in colors other than black & gold hadn't already made me sick enough.
There's fingers to be pointed everywhere. At the Saints for not being more patient. At Mark Ingram's agent for being too greedy. At the entire concept of free agency, during which time is of the essence and markets can be so easily misread. Much like those that take sides after a divorce, I want to be able to lay all the blame on one person, but the truth is that marriages don't end without regrettable mistakes being made by both parties.
Knowing what they know now, I have the sneaking suspicion that both the New Orleans Saints and someone that embodies absolutely everything that they currently stand for would have been more than happy to extend their relationship by another three years for the more than fair price of fifteen million. If they could turn back time, I'm near certain they could have found a way to work things out.
What makes this change so painful isn't that it happened as much as how it happened appearing to be entirely avoidable. All else being so damn close to equal, New Orleans would rather have Mark Ingram and Mark Ingram would rather be in NOLA. There's very little doubt in mind that that's the case, just as there is very little doubt in mind that neither feels great about the results in the immediate wake of their business decisions. To consider each other 'the one that got away' might be a bit overdramatic, but I presume you'd be hard pressed to find a player in that locker room - from Alvin Kamara to Cameron Jordan and everyone in between - that isn't heartbroken by the absence of what was an unmistakable part of its soul. Especially now that said absence has proved completely unnecessary. Mark Ingram overplayed his hand, the Saints folded theirs too soon, and both are going to need to work on their poker face if their disappointment is anywhere near as palpable as that of the fans.