NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday that the Saints have reached an agreement with the hard-charging running back on a four-year deal worth $16 million, according to a source informed of the situation.
By refusing to let Ingram go to market, the Saints have retained one of their most fascinating young players. After a slow start to his NFL career, Ingram last season looked every bit like a first-round selection, showing rare power and explosiveness inside the team's zone-blocking scheme. The one-cut system worked for Ingram: He showed improved patience in rushing for 964 yards and nine touchdowns at 4.3 yards per clip.
Ranked as our second-best free-agent runner before Saturday's deal went down, Ingram looms as a better workhorse option than Ryan Mathews, C.J. Spiller or an aging Frank Gore. New Orleans wasn't interested in picking up Ingram's fifth-year option last offseason, but everything we saw in 2014 suggests a skill player roaring into the prime of his career.
The money is fair. Nobody will come close to making the kind of scratch Marshawn Lynch is set to earn as part of two-year extension with the Seahawks that will pay him $31 million over the next three seasons. Still, Ingram's contract numbers serve as a closer approximation of what this year's crop of open-market backs can point to.
Cash aside, the cap-challenged Saints deserve credit for putting a ring on the finger of one of their most talented players.