The Ravens have waived Mark Ingram II, the team announced Tuesday, ending an eventful two-year stint with the Pro Bowl running back and team leader.
In a farewell message, Ingram wrote on social media Monday night that he was “looking forward to my next opportunity.”
Ingram, 31, was a Pro Bowl selection in 2019, fan favorite and beloved teammate who struggled with injuries over the past year. He signed a three-year, $15 million contract in 2019, but the Ravens will save $5 million in salary cap space by releasing him. In a statement released Monday, general manager Eric DeCosta called Ingram’s release a “tough business decision.”
“Mark is a talented winner who brought passion, toughness, leadership and chemistry to the Ravens,” DeCosta said. “He contributed in so many meaningful ways on and off the field, and we wish him the very best as he continues his career.”
“I’d like to thank [team owner] Mr. Steve Bisciotti and the Ravens for being a first class organization and welcoming my family and I to the city,” Ingram wrote on Instagram. “I love all the real ones in flock nation that supported me unconditionally and showed love to the boy these last 2 years.”
He added: “I’m looking forward to my next opportunity because the best is still ahead. Watch how God write this story! BIG TRUSS FOREVER!!”
Ingram had 72 carries for 299 rushing yards in 2020, both career lows, while missing four games with an ankle injury. He was also a healthy scratch in another four games, including both playoff games, as the Ravens relied increasingly on Gus Edwards, rookie J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill.
Ingram arrived in Baltimore after eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints, where he twice made the Pro Bowl. On his first touch as a Raven, Ingram ran over a Miami Dolphins defender on his way to a 49-yard carry, setting the tone for an offense that would break the NFL’s single-season rushing record.
He later popularized the Ravens’ South Florida-inflected mantra for 2019, “Big Truss,” with a memorable introduction of quarterback Lamar Jackson at a postgame news conference. Few were bigger fans of Jackson than Ingram, who championed his NFL Most Valuable Player candidacy and helped Fox’s Erin Andrews interview Jackson on the field after a December win over the New York Jets.
Ingram finished the season leading the team in rushing attempts (202) and rushing touchdowns (10) and second in rushing yards (1,018). He was at his best during some of the Ravens’ highest-profile games, rushing for 107 yards (6.4 per carry) against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3, 115 yards (7.7 per carry) against the New England Patriots in Week 9 and 111 yards (7.4 per carry) against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12.
But in Week 16, Ingram suffered a calf injury that knocked him out of the team’s regular-season finale and limited him in playoff preparation. He had just six carries in the Ravens’ stunning 28-12 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round and played just 28 snaps.
Ingram started the Ravens’ first six games this season — highlighted by a 30-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1 in Houston that essentially sealed a win — but his lead role was tenuous. While sharing carries with Dobbins and Edwards, he averaged 4.5 yards per attempt and had just three catches through mid-October. In a Week 6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Ingram suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for nearly a month. He appeared in just five games over the rest of the season, starting three, and had 22 carries for 74 yards. In late November, he also tested positive for COVID-19.
But despite persistent coverage of his playing time, Ingram maintained that he was happy to contribute however he could. Publicly, he never complained about his diminishing role.
“As many times as they call my number, that’s as many times as I’d like to run it,” he said in October. “Obviously, I want the ball, obviously I want to be on the field, get into a rhythm making plays. At the same time, we have a great room, all guys that can be explosive, all guys who can make plays. We stay fresh, we stay healthy, we all try to be mentally prepared for when our number is called.”
He also became a “big brother” role model for younger teammates like Dobbins, a second-round pick, hyping them up on the sideline during games.
“He’s still going to play as hard as he can, no matter the role,” Dobbins said in December. “That’s with all of us, no matter the role. [Whether] we get one carry, two carries, 40 carries, we’re going to play our hardest, and that’s for each other. We just want to win the game, and I’m pretty sure that’s what he’s thinking.”
Several Ravens praised Ingram on social media after his release.
“Top Quality in all facets of life,” defensive end Calais Campbell said.
“Easily one of the greatest teammate you can have and one of the most genuine. Going to miss you big DAWG!” fullback Patrick Ricard said.
“Showed me the most love first day in. Never a dull moment with you big bro! Preciate you!” inside linebacker Patrick Queen said.
With 7,324 rushing yards, Ingram ranks fifth among active players, behind Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch. He’s the second Heisman Trophy winner the Ravens released this week, after quarterback Robert Griffin III was waived Monday.