The Saints Have Signed Latavius Murray To A 4-Year(?!?) Deal, And Struck The Clock Midnight On Mark Ingram's Time In New Orleans
I'm going to say something that I haven't said about a Saints' personnel decision in quite some time, and that's that this signing, and more importantly it's implications, makes me want put down my lunch and throw up my breakfast. As someone who has always thought of Latavius Murray as a replacement-level running back, finding out by way of his shocking long-term signing that one of the faces of the franchise is about to grow unfamiliar makes me sick. I honestly don't know how absurdly pricey Mark Ingram's impending deal would have to be to settle my stomach and allow me to sleep tonight, because the Saints just gave a four-year contract to an average player of the same damn age with lesser production, lesser pedigree, and lesser personality. There's no way around it, regardless of whether or not they found themselves a better deal, the Saints just got worse by losing a versatile player on the field and a consummate leader off the field.
Of course, there's an emotional toll to be paid here, as Mark Ingram eventually won over a fanbase that he suffered right alongside during the recurring nightmare of 7-9 seasons. By coming out the other side and showing himself a selfless half of one of the most dynamic and delightful running back tandems in NFL history, the franchise leader in rushing touchdowns has ingratiated himself to the Who Dat Nation forever. That's something you couldn't imagine saying while he fought through some early struggles at the start of his career, which is a testament to his perseverance as the rare running back that gets substantially better with age. Mark Ingram was one of very few to survive the entirety of the rebuild, and in doing so became a main co-signee of the incredible culture shift in New Orleans.
That obviously makes the news of #22 throwing up the deuces that much more difficult to deal with, but this even reeks of being bad from a business perspective. There's just no world in which I can envision Latavius Murray being anything more than a B-level backup to Alvin Kamara, as opposed to a BFF of a complimentary running mate, well into his 30's. That's what the Saints just banked on, and - even if it required a lesser investment - it certainly has the potential to prove more costly both in their backfield and in their locker room.
This move reads like a desperate overreaction to negotiations that didn't go as smoothly as they hoped, and if they were going to get desperate I'd have preferred they instead lined the pockets of a more proven commodity and a beloved teammate who earned the opportunity to be part of another Super Bowl run. I would have understood moving on from Mark Ingram if it didn't mean going in the exact same direction but slower with his downgrade of a replacement. For that reason, I think they should have heeded the advice of deuce-deuce and taken a "look at the deeeeetails" that made him more than deserving of a raise and made his value to the Saints higher than just half a million more than that of Latavius Murray.
Although, most certainly not remotely close to this high...