Rushing Race

Saints running backs pushing each other toward history; Saints valued at $3.575 billion
Illustration by Paddy Mills

Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football.

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram II entered the 2022 season as the Saints’ all-time leader in rushing yards (6,267) and touchdowns (51), but he might not hold those records for long. With 4,238 yards and 47 touchdowns on the ground, Alvin Kamara is right on his heels.

The Saints selected the Heisman Trophy-winning Ingram with the 28th pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played with the team for seven seasons and became the Saints’ franchise record holder for rushing touchdowns in Week 16 of 2018 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he recorded his 50th touchdown, surpassing Deuce McAllister. Ingram signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2019 and then the Houston Texans in 2021. The Saints traded a seventh-round pick for Ingram on Oct. 29, and in Week 10 he became the Saints’ all-time rushing leader.

While Ingram, 32, will add to his career totals, the other half of the Saints’ dynamic duo may soon eclipse him in the team’s record books.

Kamara only trails Ingram in career rushing touchdowns by four. Last season, Kamara had four rushing touchdowns — the lowest of his career — and Ingram had one for the Saints. Kamara, 27, has scored double-digit rushing touchdowns every other year in his career. It is conceivable that he will pass Ingram at some point this year to become the franchise’s leader in career rushing touchdowns.

Unless Kamara has one of the greatest seasons for a running back in NFL history, Ingram may be able to hold on to his crown as the team’s all-time rushing leader a bit longer. Ingram leads Kamara by 2,029 yards. Only four players have rushed for more yards in a season — Eric Dickerson had 2,105 in 1984, Adrian Peterson ran for 2,097 in 2012, Jamal Lewis rushed for 2,066 in 2003, and Barry Sanders had 2,053 in 1997. Because Ingram will be adding to his career totals this season, it’s doubtful that Kamara will catch him this season. In truth, Kamara needs 1,858 yards to level up with Deuce McAllister in second place. Because he’s equally dangerous as a runner and pass catcher, which limits his carries, it may take two seasons for him to move past McAllister’s 6,096 career tally, much less move into the top spot. It will, however, be a fun race to watch and give Saints fans a little lagniappe as they pull for the Black & Gold.

Last month, this column space featured a report from Sportico, a sports business website launched in June 2020, that released its 2022 NFL franchise valuation in August. While the column has covered Forbes’ NFL franchise valuations, they were not published until September, after the magazine went to press.

While Sportico valued the Saints at $3.26 billion, Forbes, the recognized authority, appraised the Saints at $3.575 billion, a 27% increase year-over-year and 26th of the NFL’s 32 teams. That’s an increase of 256% over the last decade when Forbes valued the Saints at $1.004 billion in 2013.

With an $8 billion value, Forbes says the Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable team in all of sports. The Cowboys, who reportedly generated over $1 billion in revenue last year, led the NFL as the highest-valued club for the 14th consecutive year, even though they last played in a Super Bowl in 1996.

Although they played for the league championship last season, the Cincinnati Bengals are the least valuable team in the league, according to Forbes. The company valued the franchise at $3 billion, but their Super Bowl appearance helped the club increase 32% in value.

Forbes said team valuations increased this year with the $4.65 billion sale of the Denver Broncos this summer, 24% more than the value Forbes assessed the team at a year ago. The Broncos’ transaction increased the NFL’s average team valuation 28% to $4.47 billion. The Broncos were the first NFL team to be sold since 2018, when the Carolina Panthers sold for $2.28 billion. Prior to that deal, the Buffalo Bills sold for $1.4 billion in 2014.


Running to the top

New Orleans Saints career rushing yardage and touchdown leaders

Rank    Player    Yards    TDs
1    Mark Ingram    6,267    51
2    Deuce McAllister 6,096    49
3    George Rogers 4,267    23
4    Alvin Kamara 4,238    47