Should the Ravens Consider Trading Mark Ingram Sometime Before the 2020 Trade Deadline?
This is an intriguing question to explore. Undoubtedly the subject of trading Mark Ingram will lead to many heated debates amongst Baltimore Ravens‘ fans. Although he has only been with the team for one season, it feels like Ingram has been a Raven his whole career and has quickly become a fan favorite. However, with that being said, try to keep an open mind while we lay out some of the pros and cons of making a potential trade before you draw your conclusion.
The Case for Trading Mark Ingram
There are three significant reasons that trading Mark Ingram would make a lot of sense. The first would be to get more cap space. The second would be to open up more carries for Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, and Justice Hill. The final reason would be because Ingram’s potential return value might never be higher than it is heading into this season.
The Ravens currently are projected to have less than $8.0 million in cap space after all pending deals are finalized, and all draft picks are signed. That is not a lot of space heading into the 2020 season in case of injuries. However, there are several ways the Ravens could free up some cap space in a pinch, and trading Mark Ingram is one of them.
Ingram is set to make $4 million this season with a cap hit of $5.3 million. Trading Ingram after the first of June would trigger just $1.3 million in dead money against $4 million in savings. While that certainly isn’t a lot of money, the Ravens could view Ingram’s contract as a luxury they no longer need with J.K. Dobbins now added to the mix.
While not offering a ton of cap relief, saving that cap space could be useful in extending Matt Judon or Ronnie Stanley to contracts that are more front-loaded rather than back-loaded. The cap savings could also be used to sign a surprise training camp cut at a position of greater need. Cap savings won’t be the most compelling reason for trading Mark Ingram, but it would have its benefits.
The most compelling reason for trading Mark Ingram is how crowded the Ravens’ backfield currently is. In addition to Ingram, the Ravens also have Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, and 2020 second-round draft pick J.K. Dobbins. Recently, Eric DeCosta went on record, saying he wanted to employ a four-headed monster at running back this season. The Ravens certainly could go that route and will likely still have a ton of success given their current offense. However, one could argue the Ravens would be in excellent hands if they choose to move Ingram instead.
When Dobbins was drafted, the initial reaction was that Edwards or Hill’s status with the team was in trouble. If a trade at running back were to occur, it would be a safe bet that would involve one of those two. However, both Edwards and Hill come at a lower price than Ingram. In addition to that, Edwards has performed well enough to start for the Ravens if Ingram wasn’t in the picture. In 2019, Edwards ran for 711 yards on 133 carries for 5.3 yards per attempt. During Edwards’ rookie season, before Ingram joining the team, he had similar production. He ran for 718 yards on 137 carries for 5.2 yards per attempt. These numbers suggest Edwards could continue to see success without Ingram in the picture even if the electric Dobbins starts eating into his carries.
Dobbins is the most significant variable in this decision. He is an absolute monster that opponents will have a challenging time game planning for once he is acclimated to the speed of the NFL. How quickly Dobbins catches on, and how much potential he flashes, will ultimately decide how comfortable the Ravens would feel in moving on from Ingram. If Dobbins’ Ohio State tape is anything to go on, Ingram should feel the pressure. Dobbins amassed 4459 yards on 725 carries for a very impressive 6.2 yards per attempt. If Dobbins can find similar success for the Ravens, he will quickly become one of the best running backs in the league, and the Ravens have the perfect system for him to succeed.
Mark Ingram’s return value for the Ravens might be at its highest point right now. Think about it. He just had a fantastic season, earning his third career Pro Bowl trip. He showed that he has enough left in the tank to still be a lead back for any offense out there. His contract is very team-friendly for the production you will get out of him. He instantly adds value to any running back group he joins. There are definitely teams out there that value running backs like Ingram.
On the flip side, if the Ravens were to keep Ingram, he could eventually net a late-round compensatory pick. That is assuming he signs with another team, and the Ravens do not cut him or sign a free agent that cancels Ingram out in the compensatory pick formula. There is a lot of uncertainty with this route, as there is no guarantee that the Ravens will get anything in return for him when he eventually leaves via free agency.
One could argue that Ingram’s greatest value right now is for the Ravens and not for another team. Pointing to his outstanding production in 2019 and his leadership for a young team as the reasons why. However, if you believe that the Ravens have a system that any solid running back could succeed in, then you can also argue that Ingram’s production can be replaced by another running back on the roster. If you choose to believe that, then Ingram’s value to the team should also decrease with that line of thinking.
What Is Ingram’s Trade Value?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on the other team. The Ravens can afford to keep him and not suffer from it one bit. For that reason, they are not desperate and won’t move him unless it benefits them. Recent history shows that a running back of Ingram’s caliber could earn the Ravens anywhere from a third-round pick to a sixth-round pick, depending on his value to a new team.
The Ravens could also look to trade Ingram for another player at a position of need. They made a similar move last season when they acquired Marcus Peters from the Los Angeles Rams for Kenny Young and a 2020 draft pick. If the Ravens could flip Ingram for a pass rusher, then they would be able to address their most significant question mark heading into the season. Sacrificing a piece of your greatest strength to solidify your greatest weakness sounds like an elite move that could benefit the Ravens greatly.
Potential Trade Partners
There are several teams out there that could use an upgrade at running back. However, finding a team that is willing to trade for one is not an easy task. Many organizations prefer to develop their own running back through the draft or pick up a serviceable one in free agency. Nevertheless, there are still some teams that could use Ingram’s services.
The Falcons have the greatest need at running back in the league right now. While they did acquire Todd Gurley after the Rams surprisingly released him, they are still in need of another option in their backfield. Combining Ingram and Gurley would give the Falcons a perfect 1-2 punch at running back.
Proposed trade: Mark Ingram and a 2021 sixth-round pick for the Falcons’ 2021 third-round pick.
The Dolphins are another team that could use more help at running back. The team did add Jordan Howard, as well as acquired Matt Breida from the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. However, that would not keep the Dolphins from adding a talent like Ingram for the right price.
Proposed trade: Mark Ingram for the Dolphins’ 2021 fourth-round pick.
Running back isn’t necessarily a great need for the Seahawks. However, with recent reports of them talking to Marshawn Lynch about a potential return, it is clear they are not entirely pleased with their running back group. Mark Ingram would offer significantly more upside at this point in their respective careers.
Proposed trade: Mark Ingram for the Seahawks’ 2021 fifth-round pick.
Darkhorse Candidate: Jacksonville Jaguars
To be honest, this one is just pure fantasy born out of the intense desires of a crazed Ravens’ fan. However, with reports that the Jaguars have been shopping Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars could be in the market for a new running back. IF the Jaguars should choose to move on from Fournette, they could look to add a veteran stop-gap at the position. Enter Mark Ingram. There are also increasing reports of a rift between defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and the Jaguars’ front office, leading to rumors he may also be moved before the season starts. It just so happens that pass rusher is the Ravens’ most significant need.
Proposed trade: Mark Ingram and a 2021 fourth-round pick for Yannick Ngakoue.
The Case Against Trading Mark Ingram
There is certainly a strong case against trading Mark Ingram. There are many reasons to be against a potential trade, but we will stick to just three. The first reason is his ability on the field. The second reason is how he fits in with the Ravens. The final reason is the veteran leadership he brings to a very young offense.
Currently, Mark Ingram offers the highest floor of any running back on the Ravens’ roster. Gus Edwards has shown a lot of potential but has never been the lead guy. Justice Hill has played well in limited action but is more suited to be a pass-catching running back than an every-down running back. J.K. Dobbins offers the most potential, but he has yet to play a snap in the NFL. There is no guarantee you will get the same production out of these other running backs in 2020 if you remove Ingram.
It could definitely be argued that Ingram is the best running back on the Ravens’ roster and offers intangibles that the others don’t. Ingram is a complete back, whereas the others are still developing. Ingram is a bully when blocking for Lamar Jackson. He is also a weapon as a receiver, catching 26 balls for 247 yards and five touchdowns. There is not a single area on the field that Ingram needs to work on.
There is little doubt that Mark Ingram and the Ravens are a perfect match. Ingram embodies everything it means to be a Baltimore Raven. On the field, he plays hard-nosed, in your face football, and he doesn’t shy away from hits. Off the field, he is very active in his communities and an incredibly supportive teammate. He became Lamar Jackson’s biggest hype man heading down the stretch.
It honestly feels like Mark Ingram was destined to be a Raven. It would genuinely be a shame to see him on any other team. His energy and attitude were exactly what the Ravens needed. When Ingram got hurt, the energy surrounding the team was noticeably different. Ingram and the Ravens just fit together, plain and simple.
The offense of the Baltimore Ravens is very young. Except for Ingram, all of the Ravens’ main contributors on offense are 27 years old or younger. Needless to say, the Ravens could use a veteran leader like Mark Ingram around. He would be a great source of information for all of the newly drafted Ravens. This is especially true when it comes to J.K. Dobbins. Ingram would be the perfect person for Dobbins to learn the ropes from.
In addition to being a great mentor to the rest of the Ravens’ running backs, Ingram is also a significant influence on his other teammates. The connection Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram developed throughout the 2019 season was indeed something special to watch. It would be great to see that relationship continue to grow during the 2020 season.
The Effect of Keeping Mark Ingram
As previously stated, the Ravens certainly could afford to keep Mark Ingram in 2020. He does not have a huge cap hit and still has a lot of value for the Ravens. If the Ravens choose to keep Ingram, they will have four running backs, all fighting for carries. Undoubtedly one of these running backs will get left out. Last season, Justice Hill was already the odd man out between the three running backs on the roster. With the addition of Dobbins, Hill may find himself inactive on game day if he is even able to make the final roster.
With some of the pros and cons of the potential move now broken down, it is time to answer the question: Is it in the Ravens’ best interest to trade Mark Ingram before the 2020 trade deadline?
The answer to this question will depend on who you ask. Though I feel a majority of readers will side with against trading Ingram for many different reasons. After all, why take away from one of the Ravens’ biggest strengths? With that being said, the Ravens should keep Ingram for the 2020 season. He offers a significant veteran presence in a young offense that could use his leadership in 2020. However, if a team comes calling before the trade deadline, the Ravens should strongly consider pulling the trigger on a trade involving Ingram.
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