What should the Saints do with Alvin Kamara?
Alvin Kamara is entering the final year of his contract in 2020, and it's been a memorable run with the New Orleans Saints thus far. From the beginning, you could tell that there was something different about him and that he could be the next best thing. Kamara impressed in his first two seasons, and looked to be even better being the featured back in 2019. It started great for him, but clearly something changed and wasn't right. However, Kamara still turned in a respectable campaign and bounced back late in the season.
His next contract has been the subject of conversation for many, and it's anyone's guess as to what will actually happen. There's varying opinions on what he could command and if the Saints would even look at paying him. Our Saints News Network writers got together recently to weigh in on this big question: What should the Saints do with Alvin Kamara?
Kyle T. Mosley - Wait and See
High-value players and their contracts will be problematic for the Saints over the next few years. Alvin Kamara is such a unique talent. If New Orleans cannot agree to the financial terms sought by Kamara, they should consider placing a franchise tag on him next season and find a trade partner. The NFL has teams who would be eager to have Kamara on their squad and willing to pay for his services. I believe allowing him to walk and become a free agent would be regrettable for the Saints. In the long run, if Kamara has a dynamic year in 2020, I expect the team to work out a long-term contract similar to the extension they offered Mark Ingram II in his second contract.
Bob Rose - Get the Deal Done Now
I believe that the Saints will have a difficult time retaining Alvin Kamara beyond the 2020 season. Kamara, who has said publicly that he wants a new deal before the start of this season, is likely going to command a deal worth $14-15 million per year. If New Orleans has any intention on re-signing the talented running back, their best chance to do so would be getting the deal done now, similar to the Michael Thomas scenario last summer.
There is no denying Kamara's talent or importance to the offense. But, remember that linebackers Demario Davis and Alex Anzalone along with defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, safety Marcus Williams, and tight end Jared Cook will also be free agents next spring. The Saints picked up the fifth-year rookie options on cornerback Marshon Lattimore and tackle Ryan Ramczyk, so they won't have to worry about new contracts for them for another year. However, both Ramczyk and Lattimore will have extreme escalations in their salaries in 2021, leaving the Saints in further salary cap issues.
While the New Orleans front office has been masterful at juggling the finances to keep its star players, Kamara will be difficult to retain given the other crucial decisions facing the team. If Kamara is allowed to hit the open market after the season, it is highly unlikely that the Saints will get into a bidding war to retain him. If New Orleans cannot get a new deal ironed out before this season with Kamara, placing the franchise tag on him for 2021 is certainly a possibility, but their best shot is to finalize a new deal now if he is in their future plans.
Brendan Boylan - Re-sign Kamara
This would not have been a question just over a year ago but because of a “sub-par” performance in 2019, but here we are. Saints' RB coach Joel Thomas said the other week that no one really knows how much Kamara really went through to play with knee, ankle, and back injuries. Let’s be honest, Kamara’s 2019 (14 games) was not as bad statistically as people want to say it was.
Kamara rushed for nearly 800 yards and caught 81 balls for over 500. Yes, the touchdown numbers dropped, but it was not a poor statistical performance barring the injuries. BUT Kamara’s 2019 was not about the numbers…minus performances against Seattle and Tennessee, Kamara's body language and swagger looked off because of the multitude of injuries.
In 2020, many experts expect a huge bounce back year from Kamara, and I do too. A stellar season in a contract year will make it impossible for the Saints to let Kamara walk. Will re-signing him cost a hefty fee? Of course. Will it be worth it? Yes. Just think without a healthy All-Pro RB, Hall of Fame QB, and Pro-Bowl linemen (not to mention not having a No. 2 WR, but that’s not injury related). With all of that adversity, the Saints still managed to win 13 games. Now, imagine what they can do when they are all healthy. AK is part of the run to the Super Bowl now, and should be for years to come.
Carla Antoine - Extend Kamara Now
Alvin Kamara is more than a receiver. He is a weapon. Sean Payton’s offense enjoys players with multiple talents, and the Saints and Kamara fit that mold like a glove. 2020 will be his final year as a rookie and once again, the Saints may lose an exceptionally talented player. Mark Ingram walked last offseason, and it would be a shame for Kamara to be allowed to do the same.
The Saints should extend him and ensure continuity for seasons to come. There is a possibility that Kamara will choose to hold out, but there should be a legitimate effort to ink a deal. Letting Kamara walk will be a mistake, and the Saints will suffer a lack of receiving productivity without a suitable replacement. Kamara is versatile and fits well in the Saints’ offense with Sean Payton as a coach and Drew Brees as quarterback. Extend and sign to a long-term deal now.
What to look for on this next contract is what happens with Dalvin Cook and the Vikings. Kamara isn't likely to get Christian McCaffrey money, but expects to command a very lucrative deal. The Saints aren't a team that traditionally features just one featured running back in their offense, but he fits their scheme like a glove. They could absolutely use Kamara in their future plans, but at the same time could find a replacement for him if they choose to. The Saints don't have to make any decisions this season, but rewarding him and taking care of him now could go a long way for New Orleans.