Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints

The Saints and Alvin Kamara understand the Joe Mixon contract impact

Now that the Bengals have extended Joe Mixon, the Saints know what they’ll have to give Alvin Kamara.

A few notable running backs are up for contract extensions this year, as the 2017 draft class plays out rookie deals. With Joe Mixon and the Cincinnati Bengals agreeing to a four-year, $48 million deal on Tuesday, the price for others has been set. In particular, the current contract-related holdout of New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara takes on a different light, especially after the Saints are reportedly open to trading him.

Mixon’s $12 million new money average becomes the bar for Kamara to clear in a new deal from the Saints. Spotrac first ball-parked a new deal for Kamara at $14 million per year. But after the Mixon deal came out, based on the idea of $10 million more in surface value, he bumped it to $14.5 million per year.

According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo!, the Saints are willing to pay Kamara among the top-five backs in the NFL, but Kamara wants to be paid closer to top-paid back, Christian McCaffrey.

So let’s use that and say Kamara wants that four-year, $58 million deal. With a caveat for how the guaranteed money is structured, should the Saints come with that exact offer?

As previously alluded to Kamara and Mixon were drafted in 2017, 67th and 4th overall respectively. Kamara turned 25 on July 25, and Mixon turned 24 the previous day. Let’s look at their career statistical resumes.

Alvin Kamara

  • Over 1,300 yards from scrimmage and 81 receptions all three seasons
  • 5.0 yards per carry
  • 8.5 yards per catch; 80.5 percent catch rate
  • 27 rushing touchdowns, 10 receiving touchdowns
  • Career-high 883 rushing yards (2018), career-high 194 carries (2018)

Joe Mixon

  • Two seasons over 1,100 rushing yards; 237 and 278 carries respectively
  • 4.2 yards per carry
  • 8.1 yards per catch; 80.6 percent catch rate
  • 17 rushing touchdowns, 4 receiving touchdown
  • Career-best 43 receptions (2018)

Team context is important to note here. Kamara has operated in one of the NFL’s best offenses, and the Saints could survive his absence well enough if he extended his holdout into the regular season. Mixon played for the league’s worst team in 2019, behind a very bad offensive line, and finished ninth in the league in rushing (1,137 yards).

In a certain light, and one that I’m willing to shine as someone who’s not high on Kamara in a scope centered on fantasy football, Mixon is more critical to his team than Kamara is to his. While the Bengals certainly had some urgency to get a deal done with Mixon, the Saints don’t necessarily have to bend. An extended holdout that costs him games will hurt Kamara more than it hurts the Saints right now.

That said, the Saints now know the price of poker at the same time Kamara knows his value relative to the market. So a deal paying Kamara $14-$14.5 million in new money average is probably closer to being done than it was on Tuesday morning, assuming the Saints want to do it.

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