One of the NFL’s brightest young stars may just have hit the open market.
Shortly after the news that standout Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon was signing a massive four-year deal worth $48 million, ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported that the New Orleans Saints are open to the possibility of trading running back Alvin Kamara.
I'm told the Saints are open to trading RB Alvin Kamara, per source.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) September 1, 2020
The report comes after the running back has missed a handful of New Orleans practices as he is reportedly unhappy about his contract.
Saints' RB Alvin Kamara has had an unexcused absence from training camp the past three days and it is believe to be contract related, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 31, 2020
Anderson’s most recent report all but solidifies the fact that Kamara and the Saints have different valuations and plans for themselves going forward, but it remains to be seen if the three-time Pro Bowler will find a new team before the start of the 2020 NFL season.
Ever since leaving the University of Tennessee for the NFL ahead of the 2017 season, Kamara has been a bit of a sensation at the pro level.
An absolute nightmare out of the backfield for New Orleans, Kamara has totaled 2,068 receiving yards in just three seasons in the NFL, which has been a major reason why the running back has earned a Pro Bowl nod each season.
With 10 receiving touchdowns to boot, Kamara is lined up all over the field, not just the backfield. The use of the former Volunteer in the passing game has become a staple for the Saints, but now they’ll have to figure out a new plan.
All this talk about receiving isn’t to say that Kamara hasn’t performed fairly well in the rushing game as well, averaging 5.0 yards per carry over his career and totaling 2,408 rushing yards since becoming a Saint.
With 22 rushing touchdowns in his first two seasons, which saw him split carries with now-Baltimore Ravens RB Mark Ingram II, his nose for the endzone is impeccable.
Despite the impressive record, Kamara did regress in 2019. 1330 total yards between the ground and air game was a career-low, as was his six total touchdowns. This is not to mention that Kamara fumbled four times in 2019, a career-high that the 25-year-old won’t hope to repeat.
The big issue for Kamara and the Saints will be the fact that the back wants a massive payday.
On the Alvin Kamara situation with the #Saints, I'm told that right now, the team is comfortable making him a top 5 paid RB ($12+ mil per season). But Kamara's number is pushing more toward the #Panthers' Christian McCaffrey extension ($16+ mil per). That's a pretty wide chasm.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) September 1, 2020
It’s not only a problem for the Saints, it’s a problem for any team that wants to trade for him. That is an insanely large number, even for a top RB, and it limits the number of potential suitors.
With the way Kamara is holding out now, he’d want a contract immediately on signing. So teams need the draft capital or pieces to trade, as well as the space to sign Kamara right fairly soon.
A couple teams that fit that bill would be Washington, the Jacksonville Jaguars and (shocker) the New England Patriots. They all have the cap space, and likely enough draft capital to make the deal happen, depending on what the Saints are going to ask for.
The Jaguars have four picks in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, while the Patriots are currently second in the NFL in total cap space with $37 million or so available. This is not even mentioning the fact that the Patriots’ organization’s immense success would probably be attractive to an already successful player like Kamara.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the NFL for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.