Thu, Mar 11, 2021
By Jim Vassallo (Veri.bet Writer)
According to reports, free-agent running back Mark Ingram is joining the Houston Texans on a one-year contract that could be worth up to $3 million. Ingram spent the last two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens after signing a three-year, $15 million contract prior to the 2019 season. The Ravens released Ingram in January 2021.
Ingram was explosive during the 2019 season for the Ravens but was a healthy scratch in four of the final five games of the 2020 season, including Baltimore’s two playoff games. Ingram finished the 2020 season with a career-low 72 carries.
The Ravens led the league in rushing in 2020 thanks to rookie J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Ingram will join a Texans team in upheaval with the loss of defensive end JJ Watt and disgruntled quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Ingram likely won’t be the starter in Houston with David Johnson already entrenched as the number-one running back. However, if Ingram can regain the explosiveness he showed in 2019, he could turn the Texans into a power running team in 2021.
Johnson restructured his contract in order to remain with the Texans, who released Duke Johnson earlier in the off-season. Duke Johnson was more of a pass-catching running back for the Texans.
Ingram entered the league in 2011 via the NFL Draft when the New Orleans Saints made him their first-round pick (28th overall). He spent the first eight years of his career in New Orleans. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014 and 2017 while with the Saints.
Ingram was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2019 season after rushing for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ingram won the Heisman Trophy while playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide in college.
In 10 seasons in the NFL, Ingram has rushed for a total of 7,324 yards and 62 touchdowns. He also has 260 catches for 1,895 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns.
If Watson remains the quarterback in Houston (he can only leave via trade), Ingram should add another element to the Texans offense that is much-needed after the franchise traded away star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins prior to the 2020 season.
Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson. Johnson made an immediate impact in the backfield for the Texans in 2020, but many believe the trade was unnecessary.
Ingram should help stabilize a rocky offense and locker room that missed Hopkins last year. However, Ingram likely won’t supplant Johnson as the number-one ball carrier in 2021, but will be a good insurance policy should Johnson suffer an injury.
For bettors, the signing of Ingram doesn’t turn the Texans into favorites in the AFC South. The Texans had won four of the previous five division titles before the Tennessee Titans took home the crown in the 2020 season. The Texans have the second-most division titles in the South behind the nine won by the Indianapolis Colts. Tennessee should be the favorite to win the division again in 2021.