Alvin Kamara's Contract Holdout Is Puzzling

Kamara is the second-highest paid running back in the NFL.
Oct 8, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) breaks a tackle from New England Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley (8) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) breaks a tackle from New England Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley (8) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
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The New Orleans Saints held their final minicamp practice on Thursday and there was one notable absence. Star running back Alvin Kamara wasn't in attendance, and it was reportedly contract related. Given Kamara's current deal, his age and how far his production levels have dropped, this is a really strange situation.

Kamara is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $75 million deal that carries the second highest AAV for any running back. Only 49ers star Christian McCaffrey's new two-year, $38 million extension is worth more. And McCaffrey are two of the five NFL backs who made more than $10 million per year. The others are Indianapolis' Jonathan Taylor, Philadelphia's Saquon Barkley and Green Bay's Josh Jacobs.

It's fair to say, Kamara is well compensated. The issue here may be that the Saints can get out of his contract after the 2024 season and save $18.9 million against the cap. It's possible the 28-year-old wants to ensure that doesn't happen by reworking something in the deal.

The Saints may not be jumping to do that, though. The 2023 campaign was the worst of Kamara's career. In 13 games, he rushed for a career-low 694 yards on 180 carries (3.9 yards per carry), with five touchdowns. The dual-threat added 466 yards and another touchdown on 75 receptions. But for a player once known as a game-breaker, he didn't show that last season. His longest run was for 17 yards and his longest reception went for 25.

Kamara did top 1,160 total yards for the seventh time in his seven-year career. He's two-time All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler. Even if his best years are behind him, he's spent his entire career in New Orleans and it might be difficult for the franchise to cut him loose. It's possible he's relying on that to earn another guaranteed year or two on his current deal.

Given how much he's making and the realities of being a running back in the NFL, Kamara skipping minicamp to protest his contract situation is a bit odd. It's a situation to monitor as the offseason continues.


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Ryan Phillips

RYAN PHILLIPS

Ryan Phillips is a senior writer on the Breaking and Trending News team at Sports Illustrated. He has worked in digital media since 2009, spending eight years at The Big Lead before joining SI in 2024. Phillips also co-hosts The Assembly Call Podcast about Indiana Hoosiers basketball and previously worked at Bleacher Report. He is a proud San Diego native and a graduate of Indiana University’s journalism program.