Michael Bush has been extremely consistent when the Oakland Raiders have called his number over the past three seasons, and now it's time to get paid. It seems the Raiders may not apply the franchise tag to their valuable backup RB, so expect Bush to hit the market.
Greg Rosenthal of NBC Sports wrote this of Bush's chances of being tagged by the Raiders:
The old Raiders would tag Bush. New G.M. Reggie McKenzie knows he doesn’t need to pay that much for a back, especially with Darren McFadden on the roster. Safety Tyvon Branch is a better candidate in Oakland. A long-term deal with Branch seems more likely.
That said, there are teams that will have a strong interest in Bush. He led the team in rushing last year with 977 yards in relief of Darren McFadden, and his rushing totals have ascended in every year of his four-year NFL career.
That consistency will make him a coveted back in free agency. If Bush were tagged, he'd receive a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $7.5 million. As a free agent he likely sign for less, but it will still be a raise from his $2.6 million salary in 2011.
These three teams would be wise to try an enlist Bush services.
Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme produced great seasons for running backs in his days in Denver. He hasn't found a back who could stay healthy long enough to enjoy that success in Washington.
Last year Tim Hightower went down in Week 5 with a torn ACL. Rookie Roy Helu stepped in nicely later in the season, and he led the team with 640 yards on the ground.
Helu is a speed back, and in this day and age where two-back systems are advisable and effective. Bush is a perfect complement to the emerging Helu.
Bush has played in a situation where he had to share carries with a speed back, as that is McFadden's greatest trait. He never complained about carries or playing time, even though McFadden struggled to stay healthy.
The Skins' offense is a perfect fit, and the system is one that should be inviting for any running back.
With Bush and Helu as the feature backs, the Skins' run game would have more versatility. It would also take pressure off what figures to be a questionable QB situation.
Which team is the best fit for Michael Bush?
New York Giants
The Giants' running backs have been inconsistent and injury prone over the past two seasons. Last year, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were apart of a backfield that produced the fewest rushing yardage in the regular season. Together, the missed a combined six games in the regular season, and Bradhsaw was hobbled throughout the postseason.
They obviously woke up a bit in the playoffs, but Jacobs is 29, and that is cause for concern, especially for a back with a bruising style.
Bush has the ability to run between the tackles, but he offers more speed and explosion than Jacobs. The Giants should pursue Bush as a successor to Jacobs.
Jacobs' numbers have gone down since 2008. His rushing yards have dipped from 1,089 yards to only 571 yards this past season.
The Giants must be proactive in this situation. It would be wise to replace the thunder in their thunder and lightning backfield now. They will suffer if they wait for Jacobs to breakdown completely.
New England Patriots
The Patriots haven't had a significant presence in the backfield since 2004, when Corey Dillon ran for 1,635 yards. That was also the last time the Patriots won a Super Bowl. Bush would clearly be the best back the team has had since then, and he would give Tom Brady a formidable threat out of the backfield.
The pass-happy offenses have put up awesome statistics, but these teams over the past seven seasons haven't won it all.
If you're the Patriots, that is what defines success. Anything less is just another failure.
Bush's versatility as an inside/outside runner would allow the Patriots to use him to pound the ball to protect leads, as well as hitting the edges for big plays.
Bush is also a capable receiver out of the backfield. His 37 receptions last season were more than BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Faulk and Danny Woodhead had combined.
Bush would help make the Patriots offense more balanced and dangerous.