Is Alvin Kamara the next running back to land a lucrative contract?

Alvin Kamara, Saints, Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The day of paying running backs top dollar at their position isn’t what it once was. We’ve seen players such as Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Devonta Freeman deteriorate shortly after getting their big payday.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Carolina Panthers have agreed to a contract extension with running back Christian McCaffrey that will pay him $64 million over four years. McCaffrey’s contract has set the new standard for running backs, paying him $16 million per season, which makes him the highest-paid player at his position.

So that raises the question: What does that mean for New Orleans Saints star Alvin Kamara’s future contract?

Currently, Kamara will enter the 2020 season on the final year of his rookie deal which is set to pay him $2.1 million annually, per Overthecap.com.

While paying running backs isn’t the most ideal situation long-term, he’s a vital part of what they do on offense. Plus, Drew Brees isn’t going to play forever, so when the team eventually transitions towards his successor, a large chunk of money will become available without Brees on the books.

Assuming the Saints would pursue a rookie quarterback in years to come, what better piece to build around him than one of the most versatile running backs in Kamara?

Kamara’s skill set is very similar to the one that McCaffrey offers. Neither of the two are bruising rushers that’ll take the ball 25-plus times on the ground, but they both impact the game in so many different ways. A running backs shelf life is typically short-lived, but these two backs fall into a different category as they’re just as impactful in the receiving game.

Instead, Kamara offers a quality where he can run in or outside the tackles, catch passes out of the backfield, or even lineup in the slot position as a wide receiver.

Over Kamara’s three seasons in the NFL, he’s averaged 1,492 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns per year. Not bad for a third-round pick in 2017.

Alvin Kamara won’t come cheap, but given his attributes and how he’s different than the other top paid running backs, he’s someone the Saints must retain in order to keep their young offensive core intact alongside Michael Thomas.