New Orleans Saints: Why Michael Thomas is the team’s most irreplaceable player

Michael Thomas, Saints. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Michael Thomas, Saints. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Team-Building Analysis/The Issues of Kamara’s Extension

Kamara is a running back, but that didn’t stop the Saints from investing in him as a key part of their future. Before the start of the season, they signed him to a five year/$75 million contract, which says a lot about their faith in him after he was limited with a knee injury.

Based on his production, you would believe the contract was worth it. He is on pace for 1771 yards from scrimmage, and is averaging a touchdown per game. In his first two seasons, he totaled 1500+ yards from scrimmage, and has averaged 4.9 yards/rush attempt for his career; his efficiency, in addition to his receiving ability, is something is difficult for other running backs to match.

Yet, he also plays the most replaceable position in the NFL. We’ve already gone over how the offense hasn’t been tied to his success and was perfectly fine when he didn’t play, but other running backs for New Orleans have also had success.

Mark Ingram averaged 5.1, 4.9, and 4.7 yards/attempt in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively, and since then, Latavius Murray has stepped in and also produced.

The 30-year-old is averaging 4.5 yards/rush attempt this season and has nearly as many yards as Kamara; with an innovative play-caller and a strong offensive line, rushing production has never been a problem for the Saints.

What sets Kamara apart from the typical running back is his receiving ability, but as mentioned he only has three receptions over the past three games.

If Taysom Hill is actually going to be the team’s starting quarterback next season, then this may be a trend that continues, and the same is likely to be true for any other quarterback- they are going to be more aggressive than the ultra-conservative Brees, after all.

As we’ve seen, that’s not a bad approach, as establishing a passing game through a talented group of receivers is the way to go. However, if Kamara isn’t used as a receiver, he also doesn’t hold much value.

This is a problem New Orleans simply could have avoided had they not paid him, and when you’re projected to be over $75 million over the cap next season, a quality running back is a luxury you cannot afford.