Payton frustrated with RB Mark Ingram's departure

Running back Mark Ingram was open to returning to the New Orleans Saints for a ninth season before the start of free agency, and head coach Sean Payton said at the NFL Scouting Combine the feeling was mutual.

Ingram, though, elected to sign a three-year, $15 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens, leaving Payton with a sense of frustration on how it went down.

"It happened pretty quickly," Payton told reporters Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, via the Saints' official Facebook page. "Look, I'm excited for Mark's opportunity. He's been a tremendous, tremendous player for us and leader for us.

"It was frustrating because I felt there was little dialogue. At least usually, I'm able to visit with the player, and I wasn't able to, so the ends and outs specifically to how that unfolded still to me are a little bit cloudy. Tried texting him, tried calling him, direct message. He texted me back, and then the next day we weren't able to speak."

The Saints filled Ingram's position with the addition of Latavius Murray, who signed a four-year, $14.4 million deal.

Still, the Saints' ground game thrived in the past two seasons with Ingram and Alvin Kamara, ranking sixth in the league in 2018 and fifth in 2017.

Ingram and Kamara are also the first teammate backfield duo in NFL history to each record 1,500-plus scrimmage yards in a single season, which was accomplished in 2017.

Whether the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Murray can truly replace Ingram as a complementary piece to Kamara remains to be seen, but Payton looks forward to utilizing his new running back's skill set.

"I'm excited about Latavius joining our team," Payton told reporters. "We've seen him. We've got coaches that have been on teams with him. I think we'll have a clear vision for him."

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