Alvin Kamara

Saints Bump David Johnson To Active Roster

NOVEMBER 19: Johnson could soon see game action. Three days after adding him on a practice squad deal, the Saints are promoting the veteran running back to their active roster. Johnson has not played since last season.

NOVEMBER 16: Five months after visiting the Saints, David Johnson reached an agreement with the team. The former All-Pro running back will join New Orleans’ practice squad Wednesday, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

This move comes shortly after the Saints released Jordan Howard and Derrick Gore from their 16-man P-squad. Johnson, 30, met with the team in mid-June. While the sides could not agree on terms at that point, the former Cardinals and Texans back will settle for a practice squad spot months later.

Despite Johnson’s experience and somewhat distant past as an All-Pro-caliber producer, he was not connected to any other teams this offseason. He played out his contract with the Texans last season, after agreeing to rework it, and took his time in free agency. Johnson’s price was too high for the Saints in June, leading to him spending the season’s first half without a team.

The former third-round pick, however, has done very well for himself on the contract front. He parlayed a dominant 2016 slate (2,118 scrimmage yards, 20 touchdowns) into a three-year, $39MM Cardinals extension ahead of the 2018 season. The Cardinals included him in 2020’s DeAndre Hopkins trade, and while the Texans adjusted his deal, Johnson still locked in $4.25MM guaranteed in 2021.

Johnson has not come especially close to replicating that monster sophomore slate. A wrist injury knocked him out for almost all of the 2017 campaign, and by the time he returned in 2018, Bruce Arians had retired and the Cards suddenly sported the league’s worst offense. The Northern Iowa product missed eight games during his Texans stay, again becoming part of a rebuilding situation. After totaling 1,005 scrimmage yards as Houston’s featured back in 2020, Johnson took a backseat last season, when he finished with 453 yards on just 99 touches.

When Johnson visited the Saints this summer, speculation swirled about the team needing more insurance alongside Mark Ingram — Johnson’s ex-Texans teammate — against a potential Alvin Kamara suspension. Arrested in Las Vegas in connection with an alleged assault, Kamara has seen his hearing continually delayed. It has since been tabled again, according to WDSU’s Fletcher Mackel (on Twitter). The perennial Pro Bowl back is next scheduled to appear in court Jan. 23, seemingly putting him in the clear of a suspension sidelining him this season.

The Saints have been on the lookout for backs this week. Prior to this Johnson addition, they tried to claim Eno Benjamin on waivers, ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets. They joined the Chiefs and Seahawks in doing so. Instead, Benjamin — a Cardinals draftee a month after the Johnson trade — will traverse the Johnson path, going from Arizona to Houston.

Saints Sign RB Derrick Gore

The Saints have added a running back to their active roster. The Saints are signing Derrick Gore, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). Gore was among a group of RBs (including Antonio Williams and JaQuan Hardy) who worked out for the organization.

Gore was a 2019 undrafted free agent, but it took him until 2021 to finally get a shot in the NFL. After catching on with the Chiefs via a reserve/futures contract and later a practice squad gig, Gore earned a promotion to the active roster. He ended up seeing time in 11 games for Kansas City, finishing with 59 touches for 361 yards and two touchdowns. He also garnered another three touches in two playoff contests.

The 27-year-old landed on injured reserve in late August with a thumb injury, meaning he’d be restricted from playing a game with Kansas City in 2022. He ended up getting released a few days later, allowing him to sign with another squad.

This move probably doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the status of Alvin Kamara. TMZ recently released a new video of Kamara’s alleged attack on another man during Pro Bowl weekend in Las Vegas, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that the video won’t alter the player’s status moving forward. Kamara is facing felony battery charges, and the NFL continues to monitor the situation. Per Florio, Kamara has a hearing set for tomorrow.

Mark Ingram is currently dealing with a knee injury that forced him to miss Monday night’s game. Jordan Howard was called up from the practice squad yesterday to join Kamara and Dwayne Washington on the RB depth chart. Washington wasn’t able to capitalize on increased snaps over the past two weeks, and there’s probably little chance Gore ends up getting a whole lot of run. However, considering the team’s recent release of Jake Funk from the practice squad, Gore could find himself sticking around the organization for a bit.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Chubb, Moore, Bailey

The Bills were connected to a number of running backs leading up to the deadline, including major names like Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. Bills GM Brandon Beane, who worked for the Panthers for nearly 20 years, acknowledged that he discussed McCaffrey with his former team but never made a formal offer, per Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News. On the flip side, Beane said he never discussed Kamara with the Saints.

Ultimately, the Bills ended up landing on Nyheim Hines, who was acquired from the Colts for a conditional draft pick and running back Zack Moss. Beane told reporters that he spoke with the Colts on Monday night but talks really heated up right before the deadline.

“Another guy with speed, experience,” Beane said of Hines (via Skurski). “He can go out there and play slot. I mean, back at N.C. State, he was a punt returner, kick returner, receiver, running back. He can just – he can do a lot of things. So, when he’s in the huddle, the defense knows he’s in the game, but they don’t know exactly where he’s going to line up. I think you’ll see that as James (Cook) gets going, too – you know, you don’t want to overload a rookie, but he’ll be used more as a receiver, slot, things like that. So this just gives us a guy who’s proven, who can add in, and we’ll see. But if we needed him to go play slot receiver for a game, once he picks up the offense, he’s got that skill set.”

Buffalo also acquired safety Dean Marlowe from the Falcons for a seventh-round pick. While neither the Marlowe nor Hines acquisitions stole headlines, Beane is confident that these depth moves will ultimately pay off in the long run.

“Neither one of these moves at 1 o’clock were anywhere near happening,” Beane said. “So if they didn’t happen, for whatever reason, I could have sat up here, said we believe in who we got, and we do, but … I’m always going to look. If it makes sense for the Buffalo Bills, today and long term, we’re going to try and make it happen. Of the two guys we got, there’s another 100-plus that we looked into. … I think we looked at, dug deep on just 10 safeties alone, but we looked at other positions – is there a chance to acquire a depth (player)? Maybe not a starter, but a depth piece, just to shore us up, should injury happen. But these were the two that we felt made the most sense.”

More notes from around the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins quickly signed their major deadline acquisition to an extension, inking Bradley Chubb a five-year, $110MM deal ($63.2MM guaranteed) earlier today. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provides some more details (via Twitter) on that guaranteed money, noting that $33.4MM of the total is fully guaranteed at signing, while $53MM becomes fully guaranteed in 2023.
  • Elijah Moore was hoping for a trade out of New York prior to the deadline, and while Jets GM Joe Douglas acknowledged that he received “some calls” on the wideout, he made it sound like the front office never seriously entertained offers (per ESPN’s Rich Cimini on Twitter). “We love Elijah,” Douglas said (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). “We all stood on the table to take him high in the second round last year, and we think the world of him. Obviously, we’re a football family and anytime there’s an issue, we like to handle that in-house. But I was able to have a really good one-on-one conversation with Elijah. We think the world of him; we think he has a bright future as a New York Jet.”
  • Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton has been rehabbing a season-ending knee injury, and Douglas said there’s some optimism that he’ll be ready to go for next year’s OTAs (per Brian Costello of the New York Post on Twitter). The lineman specifically suffered an avulsion fracture of the right kneecap, knocking him out for a pivotal campaign. The 2020 first-round pick missed the majority of his sophomore season with a knee injury.
  • Patriots punter Jake Bailey has struggled this season, leading ESPN’s Mike Reiss to wonder if the veteran could be playing for his job. After working out a number of punters, the team ended up adding Michael Palardy to the practice squad, a further indication that Bailey’s job is on thin ice. “Right now we’re working through some things,” said special teams coordinator Cameron Achord. “Jake’s going to be OK. Jake’s a pro … He still has all the talent.” Bailey is averaging a career-low 42.9 yards per punt, and his 62.2 percent touchback percentage is also a career-worst mark.

Saints Unlikely To Trade RB Alvin Kamara; Bills’ Overtures “Rebuffed”

As we are just two days away from the trade deadline, plenty of fans and pundits are looking at the rosters of teams that profile as potential sellers and are speculating as to what notable players on those teams could be on the move. If one looks at record alone, the 2-5 Saints certainly appear to be more likely sellers than buyers.

However, New Orleans is just one game out of first place in the woeful NFC South, and Nick Underhill of New Orleans.Football says that the club is “focused on making the playoffs,” which would seem to preclude any seller-type moves. With respect to recent speculation that RB Alvin Kamara is generating trade interest, Underhill suggests that the Saints are not inclined to trade the five-time Pro Bowler.

That doesn’t mean that teams have not contacted GM Mickey Loomis to check in on Kamara’s availability. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported on Sunday that the Bills called the Saints about a potential Kamara trade, only to be rebuffed (video link). It’s unclear whether New Orleans simply declined to engage in discussions, or if Buffalo’s proposal was not appealing enough.

The Bills were reportedly interested in former Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey before Carolina dealt him to the 49ers, though Buffalo brass did not actually make an offer for CMC. In a piece that was published Sunday morning, NFL.com reporters Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero, and Mike Garafolo noted that, in exchange for Kamara, the Saints would want a package on par with the one that the Panthers received from the Niners, which was comprised of San Francisco’s second-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2023 and a fifth-round 2024 selection. The Kamara-related portion of the NFL.com report was subsequently deleted.

Clearly, the Super Bowl contender Bills want to upgrade their RB room, and Kamara would be an attractive fit for any number of clubs. He is playing out the current season on a $1.035MM salary, and he is due reasonable payouts of $9.4MM in 2023 and $10.2MM in 2024. He is scheduled to earn $22.4MM in 2025, but he will be 30 by that point, and his contract is easily escapable at any time between now and then (at least for a team that acquires him via trade). $1MM of his 2023 salary is guaranteed, and other than that, there is no guaranteed money remaining on his deal.

Of course, the expectation is that Kamara will be hit with a six-game suspension due to his pending felony battery charge, and it presently appears as if he will end up serving that ban in 2023. That obviously hurts his trade value, though his on-field performance has been consistent with the elite level he established over his first few years in the league. Despite dealing with a rib injury that has kept him out of two games this season, Kamara managed 77 carries for 351 yards entering Sunday’s matchup with the Raiders. That amounts to a 4.6 YPC rate, which is in line with his career average and represents a nice bounce-back from a disappointing 2021 campaign that saw him post a career-low 3.7 YPC mark.

Injury Notes: Taylor, Burks, Kamara, Gallup

Giants backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor exited today’s game with a concussion, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Taylor was put into action when starting quarterback Daniel Jones was sidelined with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter of today’s win over the Bears.

Taylor had a rough showing, throwing an interception on his first possession under center, and, in the very next possession, sustaining a helmet-to-helmet hit from Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon that would remove him from the game. With both quarterbacks hobbled, the Giants were temporarily forced to utilize their emergency quarterback, starting running back Saquon Barkley.

Following Taylor’s exit, the Giants ran a couple of plays with Barkley leading a wildcat-style offense, with Jones serving as a decoy out wide. Jones would eventually return behind center, solely to hand the ball off to Barkley for the remainder of the game.

Jones claimed after the game that he was OK, so there’s a chance that he will be able to return for New York’s Week 5 matchup with the Packers in London. If Taylor, who will now go through the league’s soon-changing concussion protocol, is unable to play, the Giants have quarterback Davis Webb on the practice squad.

Here are a few more injury notes from Week 4 of the NFL season, starting with the loss of an AFC South rookie:

  • Titans rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks left today’s contest with the Colts almost immediately after sustaining a foot injury in the fourth quarter. “Almost” because, perhaps being unaware of the injury protocol in the NFL, Burks got stuck on the field for one more play while injured before he went to the ground and was able to leave the game. Burks eventually found his way to the sideline and was carted off to the locker room, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The first-round pick out of Arkansas was reportedly seen in a walking boot and on crutches after the game, according to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com, but the severity of his injury has yet to be reported. So far this season, Burks and trade-acquisition Robert Woods have led the team in receiving, but neither has extremely eye-popping numbers through three weeks of play. Any absence by Burks would mean more snaps for Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Philips on offense.
  • Saints running back Alvin Kamara was officially ruled out early in the morning for most Americans before the team’s London matchup versus the Vikings. Kamara, who’s been dealing with rib issues, is reportedly “looking to get healthy for (the) long haul,” according to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football. In his absence, the Saints split carries between Mark Ingram and practice squad elevation Latavius Murray.
  • After tearing his ACL late in the 2021 season and having surgery in February, Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup made his season debut today against the Commanders. Gallup played sparingly but proved useful while available. On three targets, Gallup caught two balls for 24 yards and a touchdown.

Alvin Kamara’s Battery Case Delayed Again

Alvin Kamara and Chris Lammons‘ alleged battery of a man in Las Vegas has put both players on the suspension radar, but any prospective ban might not happen until next season. The already-delayed case brought another postponement Thursday.

Lawyers for Kamara and Lammons were in court today, but David Charns of Las Vegas 8 News Now tweets the proceedings have been pushed to Nov. 9. Although a plea agreement may be in play, per NewOrleans.football’s Mike Triplett (on Twitter), the latest delay increases Kamara’s chances of playing out the 2022 season.

This is related to the Pro Bowl-weekend incident that had Kamara and Lammons, currently with the Chiefs, at the scene of a fight at a Vegas casino. Lammons and Kamara, who has since been slapped with a civil lawsuit as well, were each charged with battery resulting in substantial bodily harm and conspiracy to commit battery. The Saints running back has been bracing for a six-game ban for months.

Kamara, 27, said he threw punches thinking the victim was running away and that he could not remember if he punched Darnell Greene while he was on the ground. Video surveillance showed Kamara punching Greene approximately eight times and also revealed other members of Kamara’s group stomping on the victim, who was knocked unconscious and sustained an orbital bone fracture. Lammons currently resides as a Chiefs backup cornerback.

This year’s Saints have Mark Ingram as Kamara’s top backup. With Ingram in his age-33 season, that might not be the case in 2023. Ingram’s contract expires at season’s end. Latavius Murray, 32, also rejoined the Saints on a practice squad deal, doing so ahead of a Week 2 game Kamara missed due to injury. Should a Kamara suspension surface this year, the two 30-somethings would likely be asked to carry the load. If Kamara’s ban commences next year, it should be expected the Saints will have a younger Kamara backup prepared to play a role. Third-year UDFA Tony Jones and veteran special-teamer Dwayne Washington are also on New Orleans’ roster.

Latest On Saints RB Alvin Kamara

The Saints have made a number of changes on offense this offseason, but much of the unit’s success will still depend on running back Alvin Kamara. His availability for the 2022 campaign has been in doubt dating back to February, but there is a chance he suits up for the full season. 

Kamara was charged with felony battery for his involvement in an altercation which took place during Pro Bowl weekend. As a result, he has been expected to face a six-game suspension, which would be in line with the NFL’s personal conduct policy. A ban of that length would mark the longest absence of the 27-year-old’s career.

Not long after his arrest, it was reported that Kamara is also facing a civil suit from the incident’s victim, Darnell Greene. With court proceedings representing a potential significant delay in the league’s disciplinary process, though, the chance has existed that Kamara be eligible to play in Week 1. Since the league is strictly “monitoring” the legal process at this point, those chances are growing by the day.

Indeed, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that “it looks more and more unlikely” that a suspension will be handed down at least in time for the start of the regular season (video link). The possibility of a significant ban hanging over him could complicate the Saints’ RB room, which also includes Mark IngramDwayne WashingtonTony Jones Jr. and Devine Ozigbo. The team was understandably reported to be on the lookout for added depth in the event of losing Kamara, but they cut Malcolm Brown last week.

Since, as Schefter adds, Kamara “may be on the field for the majority if not all of this season,” this situation is likely to remain unclear for the rest of the summer, but it will remain a key storyline surrounding the Saints.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Elflein, Falcons

A potential Alvin Kamara suspension does not appear to be coming to start the 2022 season. The Saints running back’s hearing on charges of conspiracy to commit battery and battery with substantial bodily harm, which was scheduled for this week, has been delayed 60 days, according to KLAS-TV’s David Charns. Kamara, Chiefs cornerback Chris Lammons and two other men face charges in connection with a Feb. 5 assault committed against a man in Las Vegas. The Saints Pro Bowler is bracing for a six-game suspension, but depending on when this hearing ends up taking place, that potential ban may come either during the 2022 season or to start the ’23 campaign.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Tyrann Mathieu is back with the Saints. The offseason addition is making his training camp debut six days late after being excused for a personal matter, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com notes. Signed to a three-year deal worth $28.3MM, Mathieu is believed to have returned to New Orleans on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old All-Pro joins Marcus Maye as the safeties on track to replace the Marcus WilliamsMalcolm Jenkins tandem.
  • Pat Elflein has played both guard and center for the Panthers, but Matt Rhule said recently the veteran will be working at the latter spot during training camp. Elflein is battling the recently signed Bradley Bozeman for the center gig. Despite Bozeman being one of the team’s offseason additions up front, along with projected starters Austin Corbett and Ikem Ekwonu, The Athletic’s Joe Person noted ahead of camp Elflein had a slight lead for the pivot job (subscription required). A former Vikings center starter, Elflein signed a three-year, $13.5MM deal with the Panthers in 2021. He started nine games with Carolina last season, though Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the league’s worst interior O-linemen.
  • The Panthers made some changes to their scouting department recently. They bumped Rob Hanrahan from assistant director of pro scouting to pro scouting director and gave his old gig to Tyler Ramsey, Person tweets. Hanrahan will replace Matt Allen, whom the team parted ways with in February. Additionally, Robert Haynes will rise from the area-scout level to a national scouting post, and former Lions wide receiver Corey Fuller — brother of Kyle and Kendall Fuller — is moving from the assistant level to west coast area scout (Twitter link).
  • Jahri Evans and Ty Warren are attempting to break into the coaching ranks. Both are interning as Saints staffers at camp, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. A 12-year veteran who made four straight All-Pro teams as a Saints guard, Evans, 38, hung up his cleats after the 2017 season. Warren, 41, spent 10 seasons with the Patriots and Broncos, being a starting defensive lineman for two Pats Super Bowl-bound squads. He retired after the 2012 season.
  • The Falcons also made some staff adjustments. They promoted Sal Conti to pro scout and Rushell Harvey to player personnel coordinator, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both staffers joined the team last year under GM Terry Fontenot. The team also hired Donavan Ellison, previously a Panthers assistant, to work as a football analyst.

Latest On Alvin Kamara, Saints RB Depth

The NFL continues to monitor Alvin Kamara‘s legal situation. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the running back’s February arrest remains “under league review” while the NFL continues to monitor “all legal developments.” This includes Kamara’s scheduled court date on August 1.

Kamara was charged with felony battery following an altercation in Las Vegas during Pro Bowl weekend. Video surveillance showed Kamara punching Darnell Greene eight times following an argument, with Greene being knocked unconscious and sustaining an orbital bone fracture. Greene has since sued Kamara for monetary damages.

The NFL’s personal conduct policy calls for a six-game suspension for felony battery. As Fowler writes, there’s no “firm timeline” regarding when a potential suspension would be handed out. League sources told Fowler that they believe Kamara will ultimately be suspended, but a lot depends on the legal findings. If the legal proceedings are dragged out, Kamara might be allowed to suit up for Week 1, although the NFL also has the ability to put the RB on paid leave via the commissioner’s exempt list.

Regardless of how Kamara’s legal issues unfold, the Saints are still hunting for RB depth. As Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com writes, the Saints would clearly like to add some reinforcement at the position. While Duncan categorizes the RB pursuit as a “want” and notes that there isn’t any immediate urgency, the pursuit could easily evolve into a “need” if Kamara is ultimately slapped with a ban. If the Pro Bowler is forced to miss time, the Saints would turn to veteran Mark Ingram, but the team otherwise has inexperienced depth in Tony Jones, Dwayne Washington, Devine Ozigbo, and UDFA Abram Smith.

As Duncan notes, we’ve already seen the Saints be aggressive when it comes to adding at the position. The team put in a bid for Sony Michel before he landed with the Dolphins, and they’ve also hosted veteran David Johnson and USFL standout Darius Victor on visits. The team even outbid the rest of the NFL in order to add Smith, who was “one of the Class of 2022’s prize undrafted free agents.”

Saints RB Alvin Kamara Facing Civil Lawsuit

With a six-game suspension looming, Saints running back Alvin Kamara is also facing a civil lawsuit. A source tells Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com that the man who Kamara allegedly punched in Las Vegas will sue the NFL player for financial damages.

[RELATED: Alvin Kamara Bracing For Six-Game Ban]

Kamara was charged with felony battery following an altercation in Las Vegas during Pro Bowl weekend. Video surveillance showed Kamara punching Darnell Greene eight times following an argument, with Greene being knocked unconscious and sustaining an orbital bone fracture. The victim’s impending lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages based on those injuries.

Florio pointed out yesterday that the NFL’s personal conduct policy calls for a six-game suspension for felony battery. That battery charge could also land Kamara on paid leave, which would result in some roster uncertainty for the Saints as they navigate through training camp and the preseason.

For what it’s worth, Kamara quickly questioned Florio’s report on Twitter. As we’ve seen many times, these ordeals can drag out for months or seasons, so there’s no guarantee that Kamara ends up missing any games due to suspension in 2022.

The five-time Pro Bowler collected 1,337 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns in 13 games last season. The Saints welcomed back Mark Ingram last season, but the team isn’t rostering much experienced depth behind the veteran RB. Holdovers Tony Jones and Dwayne Washington could see increased reps if Kamara is out of the lineup.