May 15, 2011

Bush prefers to remain a Saint, but will his wallet suffer the hit?

RB Reggie Bush insisted to the media today during his youth football clinic that "first and foremost, I want to be a Saint."

In order to remain a Saint, or a member of any football team, he'll have to take a paycut.  His current contract, the one he signed as the second overall pick in 2006, is due to pay him $11 million in 2011.

Once labor peace is achieved, whether that be as early as this summer or some indeterminate time in the future, the Saints and Bush will return to the negotiating table to discuss altering the contract to reflect his state as a complimentary weapon in a multi-faceted offense.  The Saints have little room or need for a megastar on offense, much less a megastar's contract. 

At roughly $8 million in 2010, Bush was already making a salary not aligned with his role on offense. 

The Saints and Bush have already been here once before.  After just two seasons, Bush reworked a deal and took an immediate $4 million payout.  As part of that renegotiation, the Saints converted $20 million of Not Likely To Be Earned incentives into other bonuses and - more importantly - dramatically increasing his 2011 salary from $3.575 million to $11.8 million.

The Saints should be willing to pay Bush competitively compared to other NFL teams, given his off-field cache and familiarity with Payton's offense. Another team looking to make a splash with a complimentary back could decide to outbid the Saints' offer.  That would be contingent on the Saints releasing Bush as soon as the open labor market returns, something that will likely happen if contract modification negotiations break down.

Despite being loaded at runningback, Bush has a unique skillset, with the open field speed and special teams ability that no other Saint runningback has.  Yet Bush is also the only runningback without the pedigree to be a full-time, workhorse runningback.  

Also asked pointedly about his controversial Draft weekend tweet following the first round and Mark Ingram's selection by his team, Bush told the media, "the more you try to explain it the bigger hole you dig. So at the end of the day, I probably shouldn't have said it and leave it at that."

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