How Alvin Kamara trade talk may have saved the Saints season

Alvin Kamara addressing his team for a lack of discipline sparked trade speculation, but it lit an even hotter fire under the team.

Alvin Kamara took a calculated risk this week. It paid off.

First, he exercised his status as a team captain — which he was named for the first time this offseason — to confront the New Orleans Saints and address things he’d been seeing in practice that aren’t OK. Things like sloppy plays, penalties, not holding themselves to a game standard in practice, and more.

That wasn’t shocking. What was shocking was the fact that he spoke about it openly and honestly with the media after the confrontation. He laid it all out: Here’s what I said, here’s why I said it.

Revealing such intimate details of a locker room confrontation is somewhat taboo in the professional sports space. There are some things you don’t let get outside the walls. You don’t want your opponents to know about your inner struggles, because they could detect a weakness and pounce.

Furthermore, the Saints are well below expectations, and Kamara’s trade value was revealed in part by the Christian McCaffrey trade last week that sent him to the 49ers. Giving any impression that he’s unhappy right now immediately puts him on the speculative trade block. He knows that.

So, yes, bringing this stuff outside the inner circle of the locker room: A risk.

But it’s a risk that comes with a statement to his teammates: I’m dead serious. 

Alvin Kamara was more than serious with Saints critiques

Since the statements, yes, Kamara has appeared in just about every trade package involving a running back. He had to know that was going to happen.

Still, the Saints are adamant they aren’t trading him. And Kamara is adamant he has no desire to play anywhere else.

And he proved both that he was serious about his locker room statements and that he cares about this team and its success on Sunday when he scored three touchdowns and led the team in both rushing and receiving yards en route to a 24-0 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Kamara didn’t do it all — the defense was obviously phenomenal to keep the Raiders from scoring even once, considering they have scored the second-most points in the league this year — but he came pretty darn close. It gives even more weight to his words in the locker room. I’m so serious I’ll do it myself if I have to

Aside from a missed field goal, it was the most complete game the Saints have played this season from end to end. And it’s clear that Kamara’s comments earlier in the week lit a fire.

His statements on their own carried enough weight to motivate. But the fact that it sparked trade talk had to infuriate teammates because it gives the impression that the Saints are viewed as a losing team willing to give up their best players. Now, just a game out of the lead in the NFC South, the division title is in view. It may come at the expense of an opportunity to pivot to a rebuild, but you’re not going to convince these players to quit.

The comments lit a fire in more ways than one. It might have saved the Saints season.

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