The Seattle Seahawks could be reaping the rewards of a team primed to enter seller mode.
The New Orleans Saints will enter salary cap purgatory entering the 2022 offseason. The Saints are currently $74 million over the cap — $34 million more than the next-closest team. It’s no secret that it’s likely a major reason why longtime head coach Sean Payton decided to step down from his duties on Tuesday, January 25.
With the Saints entering rebuilding mode and a whole lot of uncertainty for the 2022 season, New Orleans will be forced to either trade or release many of its key players. Five of its highest-paid players earn at least $15 million per season, meaning most — if not all — of the Saints’ highest-paid players are candidates to be traded or cut this offseason.
According to NFL.com’s Nick Shook, the Seahawks are “potential buyers” in acquiring five-time Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara. The star running back is due to earn $14.5 million for the 2022 season and is the fifth-highest paid player on New Orleans.
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Why Saints Could Move Kamara
Shook explains why a departure for Kamara makes sense for both sides.
“New Orleans backed up the Brink’s truck to Kamara’s doorstep in 2020, signing him to a five-year extension that pays him the team’s fifth-highest average annual salary at $15 million,” says Shook. “He’s another integral part of the Saints’ core, and unlike Thomas, he’s proven to be worth the new money. But that doesn’t mean he’s untouchable, especially if the franchise commits to a total rebuild. Losing Kamara would be equal to taking the wheels off a vehicle, but the Saints are in dire straits here. Kamara is another candidate for a restructure, which Over The Cap estimates could save New Orleans up to $7.8 million in 2022 — not too far off the total the Saints would save via a post-June 1 trade. And if they do trade him, they can bank on getting a nice haul in return.”
How Seahawks Would Acquire Kamara
Releasing Kamara prior to June 1 would make zero sense, considering it would result in a $20.5 million dead cap number. We can rule that out of the equation. If Kamara is released after June 1, the Saints would save zero dollars. We can also rule that out of the list of possibilities.
The most likely scenario sees Kamara dealt to an opposing team after June 1. The Saints would save $11.5 million in the process of doing so. If they deal Kamara prior to June 1, it results in a dead cap figure of $9 million.
The Seahawks will have a healthy amount of cap space entering the 2022 offseason at just under $43 million, according to Spotrac. That figure ranks eighth-most in the NFL.
While Seattle will have to spend some of that money on their 20 unrestricted free agents, they’ll have money to absorb Kamara’s contract. Two of their top running backs, Rashaad Penny and Alex Collins, will enter free agency this offseason. That leaves Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas at cap hits of $1 million each on the roster.
The 26-year-old Kamara remains one of the top backs in the game. He struggled through injuries during a rough 2021 campaign, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and catching just 47 passes in 13 appearances, all career lows. The Saints’ unstable quarterback situation clearly played a role in Kamara’s decline.
However, his dual-threat ability is unparalleled. With Drew Brees under center, Kamara caught at least 81 passes in four consecutive seasons and never averaged less than 4.6 yards per carry.
If Kamara jumps ship and plays with a top-tier quarterback again in Russell Wilson, the sky is the limit.