Brian Allee-Walsh

If he's not careful, Mark Ingram could go bust with a 4-game suspension looming this season

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram runs against the Washington Redskins in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017 in New Orleans. The running back has a four-game suspension looming this season and plans to sit out of team activities this summer.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram runs against the Washington Redskins in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017 in New Orleans. The running back has a four-game suspension looming this season and plans to sit out of team activities this summer. AP

I have no doubt veteran New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram wants to help his team win Super Bowl LIII this season.

But he sure has a funny way of going about it.

On or about the time we learned this week that Ingram violated the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and must serve a season-opening four-game suspension, we also learned that he wants a new contract and plans to miss the team's 10 organized team activities (OTAs).

Saints coach Sean Payton said he disagrees with Ingram's decision but it is the player's given right under the current NFLPA's Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Ingram, however, does plan to participate in the team's mandatory veteran minicamp June 12-14, probably to avoid incurring fines under the CBA.

Keep in mind, Ingram has one year remaining on his current four-year, $16 million contract and is scheduled to make a base salary of $4 million (minus approximately $950,000 in lost wages if his four-game suspension is upheld).

Until told otherwise, we have to assume that Ingram's absence from the team during the voluntary stage of the Saints offseason program is his way of sending a message to General Manager Mickey Loomis, though I suspect it will have little to no affect on spurring a new deal.

Ingram's proactive approach to cash in on consecutive 1,000-yard seasons might be one reason why he dropped his long-time agent Joel Segal and hired Paul Bobbitt and David Jones this offseason.

I think there are better ways to express Ingram's contractual discontent, especially since he'll be away from the team for a quarter of the season through no fault but his own.

There is a silver lining to this storm cloud: On paper, the first quarter of the Saints schedule is very manageable and a 3-1 or 4-0 start should be attainable with or without him. You make the call: Tampa Bay and Cleveland at home; Atlanta and the New York Giants on the road.

And while the Saints will not have Ingram for those games, rookie phenom running back Alvin Kamara will be in the house. In other words, they won't have "Boom'' but they will have "Zoom,'' who took the league by surprise last season as a third-round draft pick from Tennessee.

Again, the football optics are bad and Ingram's decision to stay away and train in Florida certainly flies in the face of the team concept.

Truth be told, Mark Valentino Ingram Jr. looks like the first one to jump off the Saints bandwagon and the team hasn't even played a game yet.

If not careful, Boom's future in New Orleans could go ka-boom!

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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