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Mark Ingram hopes to play 13th NFL season, credits longevity to 'splitting backfields' over career

Mark Ingram hopes to keep his NFL career alive into a 13th season.

The former first-round pick said Monday on The Paul Finebaum Show that he doesn't plan to retire and believes the reduced wear and tear from being in so many committee backfields -- dating back to his Alabama days -- has been a positive, even if it's frustrating during a game.

"Splitting time, splitting backfields has been a blessing," Ingram said. "But it's also been frustrating at times because I felt like on several occasions or had I had the opportunity to be a feature guy, a bell cow, knowing I wake up Sunday knowing I'm going to get 20 touches, I think that's a little different. But I don't have any regrets. Every time, I just try to take advantage of my opportunities, try to take advantage of my role within the offense and maximize my touches any time that I had the opportunity to touch the ball.

"I think sharing backfields, I think not getting overloaded with 300 carries a season for like five or six seasons in a row, I think that has helped me make it to Year 13 and still have a good body where I feel strong, I feel explosive, I feel like I can contribute and produce at a high level. But also just mentally as well -- physical, emotionally, all that. That's why I think I still have that drive and that hunger and desire and I think that has something to do with me sharing the ball, splitting time over the years, even in college."

At 33 years old, Ingram has never had more than 230-plus carries in a campaign. That career high came in 2017, a Pro Bowl campaign in which he generated 1,124 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns -- the best season of his career. He currently sits 50th all time with 8,111 rushing yards.

After eight seasons in New Orleans, Ingram played two in Baltimore and signed in Houston in 2021, but was traded back to the Saints midway through the season. He played in 10 games in New Orleans last year, missing the final four tilts due to an injury.

The running back market has been savage on veterans this offseason, with players like Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, Jerick McKinnon and others still lingering in free agency. With a deep draft at the position, we can assume clubs aren't in a hurry to sign RBs at this stage of the offseason. How the draft shakes out will determine the next opportunities for the host of veterans without jobs.

Whether Ingram finds a landing spot for 2023 remains to be seen, but clearly, he's not ready to announce his retirement and move into the media field just yet.

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