After spending two and a half seasons away, longtime New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has returned home. Earlier this week, Ingram was traded from the Houston Texans back to New Orleans, giving him another opportunity to play for the same team he starred on from 2011 until 2018.
Naturally, the opportunity to return to the Big Easy and continue to build his legacy with the Saints was a welcome one. But while speaking to the media, took a moment to thank the Texans, coach David Culley and general manager Nick Caserio for the "transparent and honest" approach they took to trading him.
According to Ingram, the Texans had not been looking to deal him with the NFL's trade deadline looming, but made an exception for New Orleans considering Ingram's history with the franchise.
"They said the Saints called and they inquired about me and that they want me, and they said that if it was any other team this wouldn't even be a discussion," Ingram said. "But out of respect for me and what I've done throughout my career and just how I started here, that they wanted to give me the option to make a decision and just let me sleep on it. And I went in and I was told them, I was like 'Coach Culley, Nick, I appreciate you guys for giving me a chance, giving me an opportunity to play ball and believing in me.' And I don't take that for granted. ... They gave me a chance, they believed in me.
"But to be able to have the opportunity to go back home where I started and be able to help them fight for a championship is almost something I couldn't pass up."
The Heisman Trophy winner in 2009 at Alabama, Ingram was the No. 28 overall pick by the Saints in the 2011 NFL Draft and starred for them throughout the 2010s, making two Pro Bowls and ranking second on the franchise's all-time rushing list, just 89 yards behind Deuce McAllister. Ingram left the Saints after the 2018 season for a contract with the Baltimore Ravens, for whom he played two seasons prior to joining the Texans for 2021.
With 6,007 rushing yards in a Saints uniform, it might not take long for Ingram's return to New Orleans to take on special meaning: With just 90 more rushing yards, he would surpass Deuce McAllister and become the Saints' all-time leading rusher.