Why the Steelers should take a look at Mark Ingram Jr.
By Sam Ouhaj
Mark Ingram has recently been released by the Ravens. Here’s why the three-time Pro Bowl running back would be a good fit for the Steelers.
Two weeks ago, The Steelers’ season ended terribly. The Steelers were humiliated by the Cleveland Browns. While plenty of blame can go around for why they lost, a significant reason was their running game. James Conner, Benny Snell Jr., and Anthony McFarland Jr. are all talented running backs but fumbling, injuries, and lack of experience in McFarland’s case all played a role in making the Steelers’ offense one dimensional. You can also say there was a lack of creativity from Randy Fichtner. Still, regardless, the Steelers’ run game needs to be changed going forward. That has prompted many to ask if the Steelers should take a look at Mark Ingram Jr.? Ingram was recently released by the Baltimore Ravens last Tuesday. While there may not be much interest in a 31-year-old running back who will be entering the latter end of his career, he is still someone the Steelers should highly consider.
Mark Ingram Jr. is a respectable player and loved by many across the league. A bright locker room presence, Ingram handled his release from Baltimore with class, and the Steelers could add a guy like Ingram. He could become a favorite in the locker room, which increases the team’s chemistry and encourages others to do the right thing. Ingram has always been one to lighten up the mood. As we saw last year with the Big Truss motto that filled the Ravens’ locker room, Ingram played a significant role in broadcasting it. While this reason may not be the central selling part in wanting to sign Ingram, it would do more good than harm.
While his character may be one of the most significant intangibles he possesses, Mark Ingram is a great mentor. James Conner and the running back room could all learn from Ingram, who has helped to mentor Alvin Kamara, J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards. Ingram stated on NFL-Draft-a-thon live last season:
"“Instead of just being selfish, I think you always need to take a younger player along and just be open, be transparent, teach them some of your successes, your failures and help bring them along so they can have great careers.”"
In a running back room that has been viewed as flawed and disappointing, Ingram’s mentorship would help bolster the confidence in these backs and help to create a new and improved backfield.
I know I mentioned that Ingram would be 31 this upcoming season and turn 32 during it. However, still, we have seen players like Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore continue their play. While Ingram may not be on the same level as these two, he can contribute to the Steelers’ run game. When Ingram joined the Ravens in 2019 and was the featured back in 15 games, he put up 1,018 rushing yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry. It was a part of the number one rushing offense in the league. While 2020 was not in his favor as he only started nine games and even then split reps with a crowded running back room, Ingram was still able to average 4.2 yards per carry.
While I am not confident Ingram will choose the Steelers to sign with, the Steelers should still put their name in the mix. James Conner is out after this season as of now, Benny Snell still has a few years left, and Anthony McFarland Jr. is young. Adding Ingram would not hurt the Steelers, and chances are Ingram may be in the market for a one-year prove-it deal, and even if the Steelers get Ingram for one year and he chooses to leave the next season, his presence alone is worth it. The Steelers could also be considering a running back in this year’s draft. A veteran like Ingram in the room ready to guide him would be outstanding.
We will see what the Steelers choose to do throughout this Free agency, but they should look at Mark Ingram Jr.