The Saints must decide if it’s time to move on from Alvin Kamara

With Alvin Kamara’s contract situation coming to light, the New Orleans Saints will have to make a decision on the star running back’s future with the team.
New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Rams / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

A few days ago, everything seemed to be going well for Alvin Kamara and the New Orleans Saints. The veteran running back was in attendance for mandatory minicamp, and everyone was envisioning how new offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak will build the Saints’ offense around the versatilely talented running back. That was the case until it was revealed that things weren’t going as smooth as they looked.

That was unearthed on Thursday, when it was reported that Alvin Kamara left the Saints facility before the team’s third and final mandatory minicamp practice. According to Kamara’s agent, the running back’s departure was contract related. While Kamara, nor the franchise, offered any other comments about the contract dispute, analyzing the circumstances makes it clear what the problem is.

Kamara has two years remaining on his current contract, and he’s due a little over $10 million in 2024, and more than $25 million in 2025. Since the Saints aren’t going to pay Kamara $25 million for a single season, 2024 becomes the de facto final season of his contract. When it’s one year left on a deal it’s time to negotiate. Kamara is likely looking for an extension, and the Saints probably want him to play this year out, or sign a deal that doesn’t have the kind of numbers Kamara wants.

Now that Kamara has made the situation public, the heat will be turned up and New Orleans will have to make a decision. Will the team extend Kamara or is the franchise comfortable letting him go?

Will Alvin Kamara remain in the Saints’ 2024 plans?

There are a ton of ways this situation could play out. Kamara and New Orleans could agree on an extension before training camp, and this entire event would be an afterthought by Week 1. It’s also possible that the Saints and Kamara could be far from being on the same page, and the team could just decide to trade him. He’d definitely have some suitors.

The Saints also don’t have to make a decision yet, as Kamara is under contract. If they want, the could just play hardball and demand that Kamara plays out his contract. This would put the ball in Kamara’s court, giving him the option to hold out or show up and play disgruntled. A hold out seems extremely unlikely, as it would cost Kamara a lot of money.

It could benefit Kamara to wait until after the season to sign an extension, as he has the chance to have one of the most productive seasons of his career with Klint Kubiak. Entering free agency after an elite season would give him a lot of leverage. However, it’s understandable that he would want some security at age 29, going into his eighth season.

The best path forward for all parties would be a reasonable extension, that’s also a tradeable contract. It’s unlikely that Kamara is trying to break the bank, or ask for a really long extension. Additionally, the Saints are another mediocre season away from entering a rebuild and moving on from all their veteran pieces anyway.

If Kamara is signed to a reasonable extension right now, and he has a great season in 2024, and the Saints have some success, the franchise will have him under contract for a few more seasons, likely at a discount. But even if the team doesn’t have success, and New Orleans wants to rebuild, they’ll definitely be able to find a trade partner for Kamara.