New Orleans already has exercised a similar option on defensive end Cameron Jordan worth $6.97 million in base salary. The club has until May 3 to do so for Ingram, who like Jordan was a 2011 first-round draft choice. Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, said this week he isn't sure what New Orleans will do.
"We've got time to do all of that. So there's nothing we've decided permanently," Payton said before teeing off at the pro-am for the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic. "I know we made the transaction with Cam. But it's pretty common with the new CBA at least to have that flexibility."
Hampered by a toe injury that caused him to sit out five games, Ingram rushed for 386 yards and one touchdown last season, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. His best performance came against Dallas, when he rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown.
He rushed for 97 yards and a score in a playoff victory at Philadelphia.
Ingram also participated in several events surrounding the Zurich Classic. He was in town for the start of offseason workouts at Saints headquarters.
So far, star tight end Jimmy Graham has skipped those workouts while his agent, Jimmy Sexton, and the Saints continue protracted negotiations over a long-term extension.
"I think it's pretty normal," Payton said.
The Saints have virtually locked Graham in for 2014 by placing a franchise tag worth $7.04 million on the 6-foot-7 tight end. However, Graham is seeking a long-term extension with pay commensurate to that of a top-tier receiver.
Last season, Graham led New Orleans in yards receiving with 1,215 and in touchdown catches with 16.
In 2012, quarterback Drew Brees held out until reaching a five-year, $100 million deal in early July, just weeks before training camp. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said during LSU's pro day this month that it would not be unreasonable to expect negotiations with Graham to follow a similar timeline, and that there is no immediate deadline.
"All of us would rather have things done sooner than later, but it doesn't always happen that way," Loomis said then. "Obviously we want to have Jimmy Graham on our team when training camp begins."