The New Orleans Saints apparently aren't going to wait around for Alvin Kamara to return to training camp while the running back seeks a new contract. Per NFL Insider Josina Anderson, the Saints are open to trading Kamara as he enters the final year of his deal. Per The Athletic's Jeff Duncan, the Saints are seeking a first-round pick in return for Kamara but their first option is to sign Kamara to a long-term deal. Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, neither Kamara nor his agent has asked for a trade.
Kamara is scheduled to make just $2,376,193 this season, which would make him the second-highest paid running back on the roster. Latavius Murray is set to earn $4.05 million in 2020 despite being Kamara's backup.
Adding more drama to the soap opera, Kamara's absence from the team facility wasn't contract related. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Kamara had to receive an epidural shot in his back which would have kept him sidelined for a few days. Kamara still showed up at the Saints facility for COVID-19 testing so he could rejoin the team. Kamara intends to practice Wednesday, but negotiations have hit a stalemate.
Kamara had a career-low 1,330 yards from scrimmage last season, also finishing with a career-low in touchdowns (six) and yards per touch (5.3), but he battled through injuries and is now healthy. The 2017 second-round pick has a case to become one of the highest-paid running backs in football as he is fifth in yards from scrimmage (4,476) and second in all-purpose yards (5,061) over the past three seasons. Kamara's 27 rushing touchdowns are fifth in the NFL and his 243 receptions and 2,068 yards are second in the league among running backs only to Christian McCaffrey.
Running backs have been receiving new deals this offseason and this has likely motivated Kamara's camp. McCaffrey received an average annual value of $16,015,853 on his new contract making him the highest-paid running back in history. Joe Mixon received $12 million per season on his new deal. Derrick Henry also earned a new contract worth $12.5 million per year.
Kamara wants a piece of the pie.
The Saints are prepared to go with Murray as their lead back if need be. Murray started eight games for the Saints last season, having two 100-yard performances as he averaged 4.36 yards per carry and scored six total touchdowns.
"He is nothing but a pro. He's prepared, ready to go," said Saints running backs coach Joel Thomas last week when asked about Murray. "I think everybody outside of the room was surprised with his ability to catch the ball in space. So yeah, I think with him, it's just more reps, more touches and obviously we feel comfortable with that as well."