Some teams still want to pay running backs.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the New Orleans Saints and Alvin Kamara reached an agreement on a five-year contract extension worth $75 million in new money, per a source informed of the pact. Kamara will get $77.13 million overall (including the money due this season), $34.3 million in guaranteed money and a $15 million signing bonus. The team later confirmed the extension.
The $15 million per-year average in new money slides in under Christian McCaffrey’s $16 million per year (four years) and right with Ezekiel Elliott’s $15 million per-year (six years) extensions.
Sides had been negotiating heavily in the last few weeks, with reports flying about from both sides in the media. Included were reports of trade discussions and Kamara missing practices due to an injury. All the while, the season loomed.
Before setting foot on a field for 2020, Kamara secured his bag of cash.
Kamara was set to enter the final year of his rookie deal earning $2.133 million in base salary. The former third-round pick is now tied to New Orleans through the 2025 season.
While many teams are reluctant to pay running backs massive salaries, the Saints view Kamara as more than just an RB. He’s a matchup nightmare who excels in Sean Payton’s scheme. The 25-year-old can hit the hole between the tackles one play and split out wide and catch a pass the next. He owns power to run through linebackers and speed to dust defensive backs.
If you want to watch one of the most dominant games by a running back last year, flip on Week 3’s Saints-Seahawks game in Seattle. Kamara carried a Teddy Bridgewater offense to a road victory through a series of seemingly miraculous runs, darting through the defense, stiff-arming tacklers into the turf, and controlling the game with every juke.
Unfortunately, a knee injury relegated him to 14 games in 2019 and Kamara admitted he played much of 2019 “on one leg.” He averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 171 totes (797 yards) with five rushing scores and added 81 catches for 533 yards and another TD last season.
The biggest question with Kamara’s new deal — as it is with all running backs — is the health factor. The position grinds men down like no other. We’ve seen the likes of Arizona with David Johnson and Los Angeles with Todd Gurley regret big RB deals not long after they’re signed. The Saints are crossing their fingers and betting Kamara won’t suffer the same fate.
If Kamara stays healthy, he’s one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NFL and can take the pigskin to paydirt at any touch. If he makes it to the final year of the new extension, he’ll be 30 years old. If he’s mostly healthy at that stage and still juking linebackers out of their shoes, New Orleans will find it well worth the price.
At the very least, the Saints will have a happy Kamara entering an all-in 2020 season as New Orleans tries to get that second Super Bowl before Drew Brees retires.
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