Since entering the NFL, star running back Alvin Kamara has become a crucial piece to the puzzle for the New Orleans Saints. It has shifted the conversation around Kamara’s long-term future with the franchise as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. All that has led him down the same pathway that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott chose to take.
Alvin Kamara’s lingering contract situation
Through his first three seasons, Alvin Kamara has blown past the expectations of a third-round pick.
The 25-year-old is a significant part of the Saints’ offensive game plan due to his dual-threat ability. Kamara has proven to be one of the best receiving running backs in the league, making him a lethal passing game option.
It saw him join Hershel Walker and Abner Haynes as only the third player in NFL history to notch at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons. There have been lingering concerns regarding health, but he’s nothing short of an elite offensive factor when healthy.
Kamara’s performance, combined with his contract situation, inevitably shifts the conversation over to his close deal. Christian McCaffrey’s record-breaking four-year, $64 million extension certainly up the ante by lifting the bar for running back contracts.
Alvin Kamara is heading down the same path as Ezekiel Elliott
Over the last few weeks, the Saints have begun contract extension talks with Alvin Kamara.
The hope is that Kamara will have a new deal before the start of the 2020 season. However, things have taken an interesting turn as the Pro Bowler has elected to miss three straight days that have led the team to believe it is due to his contract situation, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Kamara is taking a pathway that is quite reminiscent of what Ezekiel Elliott did in 2018. Granted, Elliott still had another year left on his rookie contract; it forced the Cowboys’ hand to either pay him or see him miss games.
Dallas wound up caving in by signing Elliott to a then-record six-year, $90 million extension. He missed the first game of the season but managed to put forth a league-best 1,434 rushing yards along with a career-high 77 receptions for 567 receiving yards.
It’s not to say that Kamara will record those massive numbers, but his impact on the offense is substantial. The onus is on the Saints to get a deal done with one of their most-valued offensive talents.
What will the Saints do?
Throughout the process, Alvin Kamara has remained clear that he wants to stay with the Saints for the long haul.
New Orleans knows the parameters in what type of money will get an extension worked out. The organization values Kamara’s impact, which is evident by them deciding to ramp up contract talks before the start of the 2020 season. He’s likely eyeing a pay raise equivalent to what the top talents at his position have received.
Kamara’s health issues will play a factor in the contract talks, but New Orleans is operating in the faith that he can work past those problems. The organization has the franchise tag for the 2021 season in their back pocket next offseason, but there’s no certainty that Kamara wouldn’t choose to hold out the entire 2020 campaign.
It’s a potential headache that the Saints will want to avoid, which puts pressure on them to get the deal done. Kamara has put his cards on the table, and it’s up to New Orleans to pay him what he wants.