The Saints and Alvin Kamara began negotiations last month, but the perennial Pro Bowl running back began to force the issue recently. Kamara has been sitting out Saints practices in hopes of a new deal.
New Orleans has relied on Kamara over the past three seasons, but the team may not be committed to paying him top-tier running back money. The Saints are open to trading Kamara, veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweets. One season remains on Kamara’s third-round rookie deal.
However, neither Kamara nor his agent are requesting a trade, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Both thought they were progressing on an extension, Rapoport adds, noting that while Kamara has missed practices, he has been in the building each day.
The Saints would prefer to sign Kamara to an extension, per The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan, but if they cannot do so at the right price, a trade is on the table (Twitter link). If this process gets to that point, Duncan adds the Saints want a first-round pick for Kamara.
Multiple members of the 2017 running back class have now secured extensions, with Joe Mixon‘s $12MM-per-year pact following Christian McCaffrey‘s record-setting $16MM-AAV deal. Kamara’s deal would likely come in between those two values, though the three-down Saints back is surely pushing for a contract at or near the rate McCaffrey received. Given the risk extending running backs at high-end rates comes with, the Saints are keeping their options open.
While Kamara joins draft classmates Aaron Jones and Dalvin Cook in uncertain territory regarding his financial future, he is a vital piece of the Saints’ offense. Only four players have outgained Kamara from scrimmage over the past three seasons, and Kamara’s 6.1 yards per touch betters the three running backs ahead of him. The Saints again have Super Bowl aspirations, with the team loading up its roster this offseason — ahead of Drew Brees‘ age-41 season. Kamara serves as a seemingly essential piece of this championship-contending puzzle.
The Saints have not been too shy about landing value for key offensive starters, having dealt Kenny Stills and, more notably, Brandin Cooks in recent years. Tuesday’s report certainly injects more intrigue into the Kamara situation, one that will bear monitoring through Saints and running back lenses.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.