Loomis: Saints still high on Ingram

METAIRIE, La. -- General manager Mickey Loomis said the New Orleans Saints still have high expectations for running back Mark Ingram, even though they declined to exercise their fifth-year option on him for the 2015 season.

The Saints’ decision shouldn’t have come as a surprise. It would have cost them $5.2 million for the 2015 season, which is more than the going rate for running backs these days -- especially a part-time back like Ingram.

“That’s a financial decision: the amount of the tender versus what the market value for running backs has been,” Loomis explained. “I like Mark. I talked to Mark before we made that decision. I told him it wasn’t reflective on what we thought about him. It was just a business decision, a financial decision. We have high expectations for him and I hope he has a great year.”

Ingram’s first three seasons have been up and down because of injuries and inconsistent performance. But he finished strong last season, rushing for 249 yards over his final four games, including the playoffs. And there could be an opportunity for more touches this season after the Saints traded away running back Darren Sproles.

However, Ingram will still split time with trusty veteran Pierre Thomas and surging second-year pro Khiry Robinson in New Orleans’ crowded backfield.

Ingram has run for 1,462 yards with 11 touchdowns in 37 regular-season games.