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Phony final year complicates Alvin Kamara contract situation

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Phony final year complicates Alvin Kamara contract situation

Phony contract years are more trouble than they’re worth.

They create the false impression that the player is making more than he is. Then, when the contract approaches the phony final year, the player knows he’ll be cut before that money is ever paid.

That’s what’s happening with the Saints and running back Alvin Kamara. The goal when he signed his current contract was to get the new-money average to $15 million. To get there, a fake final year of $25 million was tacked onto the back end. Now, as he enters the next-to-last year of the deal with a base salary of $10.2 million, the two sides are trying to extend the agreement.

The negotiations on an extension have gone nowhere. Which prompted Kamara to leave the team’s mandatory minicamp.

The recent contract given to 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey surely is a factor. He bumped the new money average from $16 million (with no phony back end) to $19 million (with no phony back end).

That’s the other problem with fake final years. The $25 million payment that was never going to be paid makes it harder to pump up the new money average with an extension.

Both McCaffrey and Kamara were drafted in 2017. Early in their careers, they had roughly the same per-touch impact. The difference was that McCaffrey was getting the ball more often.

McCaffrey has continued to produce at a high level, winning the league’s offensive player of the year award in 2023. Kamara’s rushing average has slipped under four yards over the past three years combined, and he had a career-low 6.2 yards per reception last season.

Although veteran running backs have done a little better this year financially, there’s clearly a gap between what Kamara wants and what the Saints want to pay. And it culminated in the unusual development of a player showing up for mandatory minicamp and then walking out.

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