Alvin Kamara contract presents a rare dilemma for the Saints

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More than a decade ago, teams began to see the value in using multiple running backs — especially when it comes to the value of the contracts given to those running backs. By shifting away from the workhorse model, teams avoid being backed into a financial corner by a highly-productive player with whom the fans have fallen in love.

Case in point: Shaun Alexander. The Seahawks had no choice but to give the 2005 NFL MVP a then-record eight-year, $62 million with $15 million paid out in the first year. After the first year, the Seahawks regretted it. After the second year, Alexander was gone.

Even as some teams (like the Saints starting in 2006, with Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush) pivoted away from putting all running back eggs in one basket, others have had — and have had to pay — true workhorse tailbacks. More recently, teams that give out big contracts to running backs (Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson) end up regretting them, quickly.

But that’s the price that is paid for allowing a player to become a touchdown-scoring, fantasy-football-fueling, jersey-selling machine. The Saints are now faced with paying that price to a running back who isn’t a workhorse.

Last year, for example, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had 403 touches. Kamara had 252.

So what happens if/when the Saints pay Kamara? Will they use him as a workhorse in an effort to justify the investment?

Before that question becomes relevant, the Saints and Kamara need to work out a long-term deal. There’s a belief that they’ll get there by Monday. If they don’t, things could get interesting. If they do, whether and to what extent Kamara will be used more like the Panthers use Christian McCaffrey will be even more interesting.

4 responses to “Alvin Kamara contract presents a rare dilemma for the Saints

  1. They have 3 running backs in Kamara Murray and Montgomery. He hasn’t hit his peak in anyway shape or form. This would be a great investment for about 3 years

  2. To use him as a workhorse would almost surely diminish his effectiveness due to both predictability and wear and tear. Use similar to that in 2018 would be wise to promote longevity of investment. I mention 2018 because I’m unclear as to a change in situational usage being a contributing factor along with injury causing last season’s drop in productivity.

  3. its a tough situation for teams and for backs b/c RBs are one of the positions that can make a massive immediate impact as a rookie/2nd year player, but most are pretty much done by the time they are 30. so teams get RBs on the cheap when they are stars and by the time they get to their second contract paying them massive money is a tough pill to swallow. Perhaps what should happen is a 1st contract wage scale that is both based on the where you are drafted and the position you play. or just make RB initial contracts shorter?

  4. Last year Kamara was injured, and was also just out for 3 games. He averages 18 touches per game. If he was in a “committee” no one would be drafting 4th or 5th overall.

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