Sources: Saints, Kamara ‘close’ to big extension

Running back Alvin Kamara and the New Orleans Saints are “extremely close” to a lucrative contract extension, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The two sides are hoping to finalize a new deal in the next few days that would silence any trade speculation, sources told ESPN.

Kamara on Monday sidestepped questions about his contract talks, insisting that his focus is on Sunday’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He is heading into the final year of his rookie contract, but so far he and the Saints have been unable to bridge the gap regarding a long-term extension.

Kamara, 25, has a total of 2,408 rushing yards, 2,068 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons. He has exactly 81 catches in each of his first three seasons — despite missing two games last year and being hampered by knee and ankle injuries over the final half of the season.

A source had confirmed that New Orleans was even open to the idea of trading Kamara for a first-round pick in light of his recent four-day absence from practice, but the source indicated things had calmed down before Kamara returned last Wednesday.

Determining where Kamara’s value lies may ultimately prove difficult, since there is a wide chasm between Christian McCaffrey’s $16 million per year and Joe Mixon’s $12 million per year in recent extensions for NFL running backs.

However, this is not a case in which the Saints are eager to part ways with their three-time Pro Bowler, who was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017 after being drafted in the third round out of Tennessee.

The Saints have made an offer that at least shows they’re willing to make a long-term commitment to Kamara, despite their salary-cap limitations, because of the value he brings as both a runner and a receiver.

ESPN’s Mike Triplett contributed to this report.

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