Tagged in: New Orleans Saints

Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints agree to contract extension

Alvin Kamara is going to be with the New Orleans Saints for the long haul.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the running back has agreed to terms on a new five-year, $75 million deal. His deal includes a $15 million signing bonus. 

The 25-year-old has emerged as one of football’s most dangerous weapons, with 2,408 rushing yards, 243 receptions for 2,068 yards and 37 total touchdowns in his first three campaigns. He’s also a three-time Pro Bowler and was the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

In Kamara, Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Latavius Murray and Jared Cook, the Saints have one of the best offenses in football. Sean Payton’s group has reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons and heads into the 2020 campaign as a Super Bowl favorite.

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But Kamara’s ability to have a major impact in the running and passing games makes him so difficult for opposing defenses to defend.

That versatility also made him more valuable than a traditional between-the-tackles runner, and it’s a skill set Christian McCaffrey also cashed in on.

It’s no surprise three-down players have set the running back market in recent years, from pre-injury Todd Gurley (64 catches for 788 yards and six touchdowns in 2017) to McCaffrey.

It was only a matter of time before Kamara inked his own lucrative extension. He’s far too explosive and versatile for the Saints to risk losing.

Prior to Saturday’s deal, the Saints had less than $6 million in cap space this year and were already expected to have more than $240 million in cap costs for 2021, when the cap could drop as low as $175 million per team.

Furthermore, they are nearing the ends of contracts with fellow standouts like linebacker Demario Davis, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead and safety Marcus Williams.

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Buccaneers sign kicker Ryan Succop, waive Elliott Fry

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reshuffled their kicking competition with less than two weeks left before they open up the regular season versus the New Orleans Saints.

On Tuesday, the club announced that it has signed veteran kicker Ryan Succop and released Elliott Fry. Succop takes Fry’s place on the roster and will now directly compete with second-year incumbent kicker Matt Gay for the job in 2020. 

Succop signed a minimum one-year deal with Tampa Bay, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, that will pay him just $150,000 in guarantees so there isn’t much financial risk here.

The 33-year-old will have to make quick work proving that he’s a better option than Gay, however, as there are just four days left before Saturday’s roster cuts. 

The veteran has 11 seasons in the NFL under his belt and has netted 82.2% of his field goals throughout his career. Injuries derailed his 2019 campaign but he was able to hit 86.7% of his field goals and 90.3% of his extra points during his last full season in the league in 2018.

After coming off of IR in late October last year, Succop appeared in six games before landing back on IR in December.

Over that stretch, he hit one of his six field-goal tries and was 24-of-25 on extra points. 

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“I’m looking for consistency on the gimmes,” head coach Bruce Arians stated on Sunday when he was asked about what he’s looking for in a kicker.

“We can’t miss extra points. We can’t give away easy points. Kicks inside the 30-yard line should be automatic. If you can make a 56 yarder, that’s great. But, when we drive the ball down to the 10[-yard line] and miss a field goal, there’s nothing that tears a team more apart on offense than, ‘Hey, we just took the ball down the field and we didn’t get any points.’ So, the ‘gimmes’ – who’s the most consistent? If you can do that and still kick 56, 57[-yard field goals], now you’re All-Pro.”

Arians added on Monday that it’s mildly unsettling that the Buccaneers do not have a stable kicker with the regular season approaching, but said: “Whoever we line up out there, we’re going to have confidence in.”

As for Gay, he converted 77.1% of his field goals during his rookie year after Tampa Bay picked him in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Utah. Gay also hit 89.6% of his extra-point attempt.

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Saints re- sign QB Taysom Hill to deal through 2021

While the New Orleans Saints are closing in on a deal with quarterback Jameis Winston, they doubled down on their investment in current backup Taysom Hill.

The Saints and Hill agreed to a two-year deal, which will take the place of the one-year, $4.641 million tender they had already offered him as a restricted free agent.

The deal is worth $21 million, including $16 million fully guaranteed at signing, plus $1 million more in performance incentives, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

“I’ve felt a lot of love from the organization and the fan base. … My wife and I always wanted to stay in New Orleans, so this worked out perfect,” Hill said on a conference call Sunday.

Hill said the idea of a two-year deal “made the most sense for everybody” because it gives him an opportunity to become Drew Brees’ successor if Brees retires in the next year or two — but also gives him freedom if that doesn’t happen.

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Hill posted a message on Instagram on Sunday, stating, “I’ve had this dream since I was a little kid of playing in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints made that dream a reality. … Thank you NOLA.”

Hill, 29, did not sign an offer sheet with any other NFL teams before last week’s deadline for restricted free agents, which gave the Saints exclusive negotiating rights. Depending on how they structure the new deal, they could create some extra salary-cap space to help make room for Winston.

Regardless of Winston’s pending arrival, Saints coach Sean Payton has made it clear he considers the versatile Hill could potentially succeed Brees as New Orleans’ starting quarterback.

Hill got a late start to his NFL career because he went on a two-year church mission to Australia after high school, then spent five years at BYU, where he suffered a total of four season-ending injuries. But he was impressive enough as a dual-threat QB at BYU to finish his career with 6,929 passing yards, 43 TD passes, 2,815 rushing yards and 32 rushing TDs.

He started his NFL career as an undrafted rookie with the Green Bay Packers in 2017 before the Saints claimed him off waivers on cut-down day.

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Kirk Cousins delivers for Vikings in Overtime to pick up first playoff victory

It will be the Minnesota Vikings, and not the New Orleans Saints, moving on to the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs.

After letting the Saints to tie up the game late in the fourth, the Vikings were guided down the field by Cousins and stunned the home crowd with walk-off touchdown to Zach Rudolph.

Cousins, who has been criticized throughout his entire career–including during his tenure in the nation’s capital–for not being able to deliver when the team needs him most, booked the Vikings a trip to San Francisco for a date with Jimmy Garappolo and the San Francisco 49ers. 

The 31-year-old Cousins lost his only previous playoff start — during the 2015 campaign with the Washington Redskins — and came up short of a playoff berth in the Vikings’ final game last season.

He also struggled in a handful of other high-profile matchups in prime time in 2019, but he delivered in Minnesota’s first road playoff victory since Jan. 9, 2005, when the Vikings defeated the rival Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the wild-card round.

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“I’m just happy we won,” Cousins said. “It was a great, great game, two good football teams.”

New Orleans fans surely begged to differ after seeing the NFC South champions’ season end in overtime at home for a second straight year.

The latest disappointing end for the Saints (13-4) came the year after they lost in the NFC championship game to the Los Angeles Rams in a matchup marred by blatant penalties not being called against the Rams late in regulation.

This time, replays on video boards showed a possible push-off by Rudolph against defensive back P.J. Williams moments before he jumped to snag the winning catch.

NFL president of officiating Al Riveron said the league reviewed numerous replay angles, and though officials saw contact by both players, “none of that contact rises to the level of a foul.”

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49ers improve 11-2 with road win over Saints

The Saints scored a go-ahead touchdown with 53 seconds remaining, the fourth lead change of the day, and had the 49ers on the ropes with a fourth-and-two with 39 seconds remaining.

But New Orleans missed on two two-point conversions, including one after their final touchdown, and the 49ers kicked the game-winning field goal on the final play.

Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle on for a 39-yard gain on that fourth-and-two play, with C.J. Gardner-Johnson missing a tackle that would have ended the game. Marcus Williams added a facemask penalty at the end of the play. It set up San Francisco in field goal range.

Robbie Gould kicked a 30-yarder as time expired to give the 49ers a 48-46 victory in the game of the season in the NFL.

The teams combined for 94 points and 981 yards. The Saints punted once, threw an incompletion on a fake punt that they thought they should have gotten defensive holding and Alvin Kamara lost a fumble. The 49ers punted three times and Garoppolo threw an interception.

The 49ers, who lost a 20-17 heartbreaker to the Ravens on the final play last week, moved to 11-2. The Saints fell to 10-3.

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Tre’Quan Smith scored on an 18-yard pass from Drew Brees with 53 seconds left in what looked like it was going to be the game-winner, but Garoppolo and Gould had the last say.

Garoppolo finished 26-of-35 for 349 yards with four touchdowns and the interception. Brees went 29-of-40 for 349 yards and five touchdowns.

The 49ers picked up a key victory, in terms of their quest to win the NFC West and, potentially, gain home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The Seattle Seahawks entered the day with a 10-2 record but currently are listed atop the NFC West standings because of their head-to-head victory over the 49ers on Nov. 11.

The 49ers can clinch a playoff spot Sunday night with a Los Angeles Rams loss or tie against Seattle. They can take over the top spot in the NFC West — and best record in the NFC — with a Rams victory.

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Saints defeat Falcons to clinch third straight NFC South title

Taysom Hill blocked a punt to set up his 3-yard touchdown catch, later scored on a 30-yard run and the New Orleans Saints clinched their third straight NFC South title by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 26-18 on Thursday night.

With Julio Jones out due to a shoulder injury, the Falcons had too little offence to keep pace with Drew Brees and the Saints. Atlanta recovered two onside kicks in the closing minutes, including one with 1:54 remaining, to make things interesting.

Matt Ryan was sacked by Cameron Jordan on a fourth-down play from the New Orleans 44 with 38 seconds remaining. Ryan was sacked nine times, including four by Jordan.

The Saints (10-2) atoned for their 26-9 home loss to the Falcons on Nov. 10. It was the Saints’ only defeat in their last 10 games. The versatile Hill blocked Ryan Allen’s punt to end Atlanta’s first possession.

The Saints took over at the Falcons 30, and four plays later Hill scored his first touchdown on the short pass from Brees.

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Hill took a direct snap and ran 30 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season to give New Orleans a 17-6 lead late in the first half.

The disappointing Falcons (3-9) solidified their hold on last place in the division with their second straight home defeat.

With Jones missing a game for the first time since 2016, and Atlanta tight ends Austin Hooper and Luke Stocker held out with injuries, Ryan had to look for new targets.

Ryan threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Russell Gage with less than four minutes remaining. Christian Blake had six catches for 57 yards.

The Saints return home to play San Francisco on Dec. 8. The Falcons play their fifth straight game against an NFC South rival when they face Carolina on Dec. 8. The Falcons defeated the Panthers 29-3 on Nov. 17.

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