Saints’ Alvin Kamara May Need Reality Check In Contract Standoff

Alvin Kamara, Saints
NFL Analysis Network

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara did not attend the team’s final practice of mandatory minicamp due to dissatisfaction with his contract, via Ian Rapoport of NFL media.

Kamara participated in the morning walkthrough but left before practice.

The 28-year-old (who turns 29 next month) has two years remaining on his current deal, although the last year is not guaranteed. This season, he is slated to earn $10.2 million in base salary, but only $1 million is guaranteed.

That Kamara chose to leave right before the last practice shows that he is clearly trying to send a message, and it definitely puts his status for training camp next month in question.

But is Kamara really justified in his strategy?

Alvin Kamara Is a Declining Running Back

When he was younger, there was no doubt that Kamara was one of the best all-purpose backs in football. He was an efficient runner. He could catch passes out of the backfield with the best of them. He racked up touchdowns.

Kamara made five straight Pro Bowl appearances to begin his career, a testament to just how terrific of an all-around player he really was at his peak. Keep in mind: he never even rushed for 1,000 yards. He just did a little bit of everything, almost like a rich man’s Austin Ekeler.

However, there is very little doubt that over the last three seasons, Kamara has declined.

This past year, Kamara was suspended for the first three games of the campaign due to some off-the-field behavior. He ended up playing in 13 contests overall, rushing for 694 yards and five touchdowns while averaging a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry. He hauled in 75 receptions, but only for 466 yards with just one score.

It marks the third consecutive season that Kamara has been inefficient. He logged 3.7 yards per attempt in 2021 and four yards per tote in 2022. Also, after racking up over 80 catches in each of his first four seasons, he totaled 47 grabs in 2021 and 57 the following year.

Kamara is not an elite running back anymore. Yes, he is still technically the Saints’ featured back, and it’s not like he’s a bum. He’s still fairly productive. However, he really hasn’t been that good since 2020. That season, he led the NFL with 21 total touchdowns. He has just 19 combined in three years since then.

So what makes Kamara think he is really worth a new contract?

Perhaps he just wants some minor adjustments to his deal. Again, he is only due $1 million in guarantees for 2024, so that may be the issue. But beyond that? New Orleans shouldn’t feel obligated to extend him. He has a lot of mileage on his legs, and it has shown the past several seasons.

The Saints have 22-year-old Kendre Miller on the roster, and he could end up being a player who steps up this coming season, especially if Kamara’s decline continues. New Orleans’ focus should be on Miller, who could be its halfback of the future.

Giving more money to Kamara would further damage what is already a pretty volatile cap situation for the Saints. Will he hold out? Possibly, but at this stage, New Orleans may be better off playing hardball with him.

Alvin Kamara simply isn’t that guy anymore.

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