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New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) runs for 36 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of a divisional playoff game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Saints won 20-14.

Those who work in the industry will be keeping a close eye on how Mark Ingram’s market comes together.

The running back is the rare player who doesn’t have a readily applicable comparison in recent history across the league. Other running backs nearing the age of 30 have signed contracts in past years, but few have been used as sparsely as Ingram has throughout his career.

You either have to use fading players or guys who are several years younger to find a sweet spot. Opinions on this one might come together vary depending on who you ask.

Marshawn Lynch was 31 when he came out of retirement and signed a two-year deal with the Oakland Raiders. Though he had missed a season, he had 10 years of tread on his legs, which included 2,144 carries. Still, the Raiders signed him to a two-year deal worth $9 million.


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Ingram won’t turn 30 until the end of next season and has 1,321 carries over eight seasons, which is about 80 fewer carries per season than Lynch was averaging before being traded to and signing with the Raiders.

Jonathan Stewart signed a two-year, $8 million deal to return to Carolina in 2017 right after he turned 30. The running back had racked up 1,501 carries during the nine previous seasons, which is a lighter load and puts him more on par with Ingram, but he was never quite as productive. He rushed for 1,133 yards in 2009 but only topped 850 yards one other time.

Ingram rushed for 1,043 yards in 2016 and 1,124 in 2017. He had 645 in 12 games last year.

Ingram last signed a four-year deal worth $16 million ahead of the 2015 season. The running back has played significantly better since earning that deal. The difference is he’s now four years older.

The running back has said he would like to stay, and he would if the team hits the numbers he has in mind, but he also must be aware this is his last time to get paid a good deal.

The Saints would also like to keep him if they can.

"He's been a big part of our success," Payton said. "There's a clean vision for the player. Hopefully we can get that done."

This one could go either way.


Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​