Mark Ingram hopeful for return to New Orleans Saints


PHOENIX -- Coming off his best season as a pro, Mark Ingram is headed toward free agency, but hopes he doesn't have to change addresses.

"I'm looking forward to getting a new deal," Ingram told Around The NFL on Thursday from Pro Bowl practice. "Hopefully I'm with the Saints, man. They drafted me and I'd love to be with New Orleans for my career."

Ingram believes the interest is mutual, adding "they said they want me back." The running back said he hasn't spoken to the team since the Saints' season ended.

Ingram gobbled up 964 yards on the ground on 226 attempts and nine touchdowns -- all career highs. He missed three games due to a shoulder injury that sapped some of his power down the stretch. However, the running back's 74.2 yards per game were good for eighth in the NFL.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported in October that the Saints would let Ingram test the market. At the time the 25-year-old was in the midst of the hottest streak of his career.

After a disappointing start to his career, the Saints declined to pick up the fifth-year option on the 2011 first-round pick's contract, making him a free agent in March. Ingram insists his first Pro Bowl-year wasn't a result of motivation, but rather of opportunity.

"I had some opportunities to carry the ball a little bit more than in the past, on the field a little bit more than I was in the past," he said. "I just think with those opportunities, I was able to take advantage of them and to put together a good year."

Ingram hopes he'll get even more opportunities in a Saints jersey in the future.

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