Saints fans near and far fret about the future of Alvin Kamara in New Orleans. Entering the final year of his contract, will the dynamic dual-threat running back get a big long-term deal or not? How would paying an RB fit into the gymnastics the Saints' front office already does with the salary cap?
Kamara, however, isn't fretting his contract. He's simply readying to play.
"As far as contracts go, I'm not concerned with contract talks at all," he said, via Luke Johnson of The Times-Picayune. "Me and my agent talked briefly about it, and I told him, 'Don't tell me anything about a contract until stuff is happening and there's something I need to know.' If I was my own agent, then I would have everything to tell you guys about a contract, but I'm not. I don't talk (with the front office) about contracts, I don't talk to coaches about contracts."
A third-round pick in 2017, Kamara is set to earn $2.13 million in base salary on the final year of his rookie deal.
"I'm just here to do my job. I'm healthy and back with my teammates, and we're working towards getting ready for Tampa (in Week 1)," he said.
Kamara wasn't healthy last year. He missed two games due to injury and noted earlier this offseason that he played most of the year hobbling on "one leg" at 75 percent after injuring his knee against Jacksonville in Week 6. The Juke Stick King wasn't himself but remained more dangerous than the majority of running backs.
"I injured myself early. Jacksonville week, I tore my knee basically," Kamara said. "That was something I was dealing with the whole season, had to miss some time, which I don't like to do. Came back, tried to play as best I could, tried to manage it the best I could. … I tried to put my best product out on the field. Sometimes it was enough, sometimes it wasn't. I just didn't want to let my team down. At times, there were situations where in my head I'm like I shouldn't be out here. It's just that urge in me to be like I need to be here to help my team. What if I'm not in and there's something I could've done?"
The threat of injury is one aspect of what makes Kamara's contract talks interesting.
When healthy, he's one of the few backs that tilts the field. He can blast through defensive linemen between the tackles and outrun defensive backs in the open field. As a pass-catcher, he can torch linebackers and safeties alike. Kamara is the dictionary-definition of a modern dual-threat. He is a chess piece for which few teams have a rebuttal.
The Week 3 tilt in Seattle was quintessential Kamara, as the running back propelled the Drew Brees-less Saints to a road win in an extremely hostile environment seemingly through the force of will, some ridiculous cuts and man-hauling stiff arms. It ranks among the top running back performances of the year and would probably rank at the top among most all-time lists were it not for recency bias. Kamara was that good that afternoon.
But will injuries that have already popped up flat-line the contract talks? Will the Saints look at what happened with the Todd Gurley and David Johnson deals and shy away from paying Kamara at a Christian McCaffrey-level? What sort of deal would Kamara welcome? Would he insist on matching CMC, or is something closer to the Derrick Henry deal or a shade more applicable?
Teams have devalued the running back in recent years, but what of a dual-threat like Kamara? McCaffrey got paid, but the reticence remains, especially where injury questions live. Perhaps the Saints might convince themselves that Sean Payton can find another back to at least replicate a portion of what Kamara brought to the table.
New Orleans could use the franchise or transition tag next year on Kamara, ensuring he remains a Saint for at least one more year. At this point, however, the running back is simply focusing on staying healthy and winning a Super Bowl for the Saints.