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Saints' Mark Ingram likely to test free agency in 2015

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Mark Ingram is coming off the best game of his career, breaking tackles and making defenders miss time and time again in the New Orleans Saints' victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Coach Sean Payton not only increased Ingram's workload, but also shifted the offense to more base personnel sets, leaning on the ground game to set up Drew Brees' aerial attack.

As Ingram's value to the Saints' offense becomes further ingrained, the organization faces a dilemma after declining his fifth-year option last offseason.

Ingram is expected to reach the free-agent market in March, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday, via two sources informed of the running back's situation.

Per Rapoport, one scout who has studied Ingram believes the former first-round draft pick is finally realizing his substantial talent due to increased confidence and the late 2013 shift to an inside/outside blocking scheme that emphasizes his strengths.

If the offense brings out the best in a rejuvenated Ingram the rest of the season, the Saints won't be so eager to see him test the open market.

Ingram is a 24-year-old back with an every-down skill set, fresh legs, a first-round pedigree and breakout potential. Reading between the lines, his camp is confident in a big 2015 pay day.

Already up against the salary cap, general manager Mickey Loomis might have to consider the franchise or transition tag if Ingram continues to flirt with 6.0 yards per carry as an offensive fulcrum.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down the league at the midway point and previews Saints-Panthers. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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