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The New Orleans Saints and All-Pro running back Alvin Kamara are “extremely close” to an agreement on a long-term contract extension, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Both sides are reportedly motivated to get a deal done and the hope is that it is finalized in the coming days. 

The past week has been a roller coaster ride for the relationship between team and player. Early this month, the former second-round selection was absent for four days and it had not been approved by the Saints. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Kamara had been receiving treatment for a minor back injury despite speculation that the absence was contract-related. Emotions were running high in New Orleans, which prompted reports that the team was open to trade scenarios if a first-round pick was attached. Fowler adds that four teams called about Kamara, but cooler heads prevailed and the two parties continued working toward a long-term extension. 

Trading Kamara, 25, who is entering the final season of his rookie contract, would have been counter-intuitive to their aggressive nature this offseason. The NFC South franchise packaged multiple picks to pursue quality, not quantity, in the 2020 NFL Draft. When the dust had settled, the Saints had made three selections in the first two days and four altogether. Late last week, New Orleans was involved in a scheme to sign-and-trade for then-free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was since signed with the Titans. Many assume that the upcoming season may be the last for quarterback Drew Brees and the team’s aggressiveness certainly substantiates those claims. 

It has been a busy offseason for running backs signing contract extensions. Titans running back Derrick Henry ($12.5 million annual average), Bengals running back Joe Mixon ($12 million annual average) and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey ($16 million annual average) all received strong commitments from their respective franchises. Kamara’s deal is projected to fall somewhere in the middle of that range. 

The Georgia native has been selected to three Pro Bowls and was named a second-team All-Pro in 2017. Last season, he had 797 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 171 carries as well as 81 receptions for 533 yards and a touchdown in 14 games. The Tennessee product has recorded exactly 81 receptions in each of his three seasons.

The Saints open the regular season Sept. 13 at home against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

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