Opinions

Saints Off-Season Outlook: Running Backs

In this article we take a look at the Saints backfield. No doubt they have the best duo with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, who have been great off the field as well as on it. The one thing we believe the team needs is a 3rd running back who can be a change of pace to keep Kamara fresh from a heavy work load and also give the Saints another weapon out the backfield to mess with opposing defenses. With Ingram set to be a free agent, the team has started talks with him and his agent and hope to get a deal done before the new season officially kicks off. The chemistry between Ingram and Kamara is like no other and it would a devastating blow if he were to depart. However, Ingram made it clear that he wants to be here and the Saints feel the same way. Nothing is set in stone just yet so we will look at who could potentially be wearing Black and Gold in 2019.

Current Players

Mark Ingram (signed with Ravens) | Alvin Kamara | Dwayne Washington | Martez Carter (PS)

As mentioned, the combo of Boom and Zoom is lethal and their chemistry is off the radar. Washington rarely saw the field but made some flashes whenever the opportunity was given to him. He may turn out the be a surprise factor if he works hard enough. Carter was signed late in the season to the practice squad and signed a future contract with the team. He has not seen any action and should be intriguing to watch during camps.

Free Agent Targets

Jay Ajayi | Eagles

Ajayi had his season cut short due to a torn ACL. His production has been on the decline since a steller 2016 campaign where he had over 1,200 yards rushing. The Eagles run game never got going at all last year even with Ajayi in the lineup. If Ingram signs elsewhere, Ajayi will be a suitable replacement.

Jeremy Hill | Patriots

The former LSU Tiger only played a few snaps for New England before a season ending injury. His stats have been down the last few years due to injuries and the emergence of other players. Signing with the Saints would hopefully boost his morale to get him back to his rookie form when he accumulated over 1,000 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns. Could be a short term or long term option given the circumstances.

Latavius Murray | Vikings (signed with Saints)

Murray has a big build to get those tough yards in crunch time. He has had more time on the field with Dalvin Cook’s injuries the past two seasons. It would be hard to imagine Minnesota letting him walk without any assurance behind Cook. Murray and Ingram are both 29 but still have a lot left in the tank. If anything, Murray would probably sign a one -year deal to get his stock back to where it was when he left Oakland.

T.J. Yeldon | Jaguars

Yeldon has the potential to be the true missing piece to the Saints backfield. He was very under utilized in Jacksonville even when Leonard Fournette missed more than half the season. Yeldon has good size and speed to be a threat running and catching the ball. Getting him onboard at a low cost would be a dream come true for the team.

Trade Targets

None

There is enough talent in the free agent market and in this year’s draft class to where the Saints almost have no reason to go for a running back via trade.

Draft Prospects

Darrell Henderson | Memphis

Small in size but a hard and speedy runner, not strong as far as vision but is reliable to catch the ball out the backfield.

Trayveon Williams | Texas A&M

Great character and locker room personality who is patient running the ball and plays at a high speed, small in stature and needs to work on change of pace.

Benny Snell | Kentucky

Another patient runner with a nose for the endzone with a bigger catch radius than most, not a lot of burst when getting through tight windows and needs develop in pass pro.

Mike Weber | Ohio State

Good vision and balance when contacted, does not have the burst but is a good third down option, needs to work more on pass protection.

Overall, there are many options available if Ingram stays or goes. Keeping him in NOLA is the main objective right now and both sides know that. Adding a dynamic rookie or seasoned veteran to provide another spark on offense could work wonders throughout the season. Not saying that it is a necessity but having as many weapons out the backfield as possible is part of the Saints nature and we have been missing that element since Darren Sproles was traded.

Follow Dom Lewis on Twitter @BigFella122