Speculation has abounded regarding Reggie Bush’s future with the New Orleans Saints.
Bush has struggled to live up to the hype and the astronomical contract that he signed as the No. 2 overall pick out of USC. And it has been well-documented.
Due to make a cool $11.8 million for the upcoming 2011 season, the Saints’ front office has been tasked with finding a suitable alternative to paying the electrifying playmaker the exorbitant contract.
A couple of avenues have been expressed in the media.
One route that many draft pundits have offered is cutting Bush and finding a cheaper version in the draft.
This idea has picked up a lot of steam from some of the ESPN analysts, just not the NFC South blogger Pat Yasinkas, a guy who would be in the know.
A more sensible approach would seem to be a restructuring of Reggie’s rookie deal. If this is the case, then he will almost certainly have to take a pay cut.
Reggie Bush is a sometimes subtle, other times dynamic force in the NFL and the Saints will do everything in their power, short of paying him the large contract, to keep him in New Orleans.
“Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!”
The chant fills the Superdome on game day. I have heard them myself and they are every bit as loud as the cries of “Duece!” when the Saints great would break off a long run or bulldoze a defensive back.
Inside and outside of New Orleans, there are numerous critics of Reggie Bush and his running style.
“He’s too soft.” “He only runs sideways.” “He dances around too much.”
Sure there may be some credence to those arguments. That doesn’t mean that they factor into the playmaker’s fandom.
You can ignore the critics because Saints fans simply do not care. They know Bush can make a house call at any moment.
Mickey Loomis, the Saints general manager, probably does not let fan opinion be a large factor in his decision-making, but that does not mean it isn’t a factor at all.
Getting rid of a bust like JaMarcus Russell was a lot easier than shipping Joe Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs. That is for sure.
By far the most underrated aspect of Reggie’s game is the diversity of his talents. He can run, he can catch, and he can return kicks.
Reggie is an incredibly smart player, and that is reflected in the numerous positions he plays.
He never has been a simple running back who can catch a few balls out of the backfield.
He takes turns at multiple wide receiver positions and plays them well, is effective on screens and can take a swing pass for 20 yards easily.
Playing against the Minnesota Vikings in 2008, Bush returned two punts and nearly a third for a touchdown. You can watch it here.
All of this adds to depth.
In 2010, the Green Bay Packers limped into the playoffs due to injuries to core pieces of their team. The great depth of the team was the single largest reason they won the Super Bowl.
Depth is not something that should be overlooked.
Reggie Bush’s ability to play multiple positions does more than just add depth. It also exponentially increases the offensive.
By deploying Bush as a slot receiver or out wide, the defense must adjust to his presence. He could be lined up there to run a route, something Reggie does exceptionally well.
Or he could be motioned back towards the line for an “end around” or “reverse.” His sheer athleticism allows for plays that only an exceptional few can pull off. For example: there’s this.
The newfound uncertainty can open up plays for other players as the defense attempts to adjust.
This is why Reggie Bush has been carrying around the moniker of the “Greatest Decoy” in the NFL.
There may seem to be some negative connotation to that nickname, but what it implies is a pretty strong statement: Reggie Bush is so versatile and such a dynamic playmaker that the defense must account for him at all times.
That last part sounds like something said about Lawrence Taylor once upon a time.
I must confess. The idea of finding a cheaper version of Reggie Bush annoys me to no end.
Despite what you think of Reggie Bush, few people would argue that he is at least a decent player. A player most teams wouldn’t mind making room for on their roster.
So why then doesn’t everyone have a player of the Reggie Bush mold or caliber on their team?
The answer is quite simple: Reggie Bushes don’t come around every year.
Marshall Faulk was the best dual-threat running back in NFL history. Reggie Bush was the closest person, in terms of potential, to matching Faulk’s ability to run the ball and catch it in recent memory.
The consensus between these two players is that they were both taken with the No. 2 overall pick. These players are rare and their price tags are steep.
Mark Ingram out of Alabama is the only running back with a first-round grade in this year’s draft and he likely won’t be taken in the top 10.
His bruising running style and 4.6 speed are vastly different than Reggie Bush’s skill set.
There is no Reggie Bush in this year’s draft.
I don’t mean to put words in the man’s mouth, so I’ll let him speak for himself.
It seems apparent that Bush is aware that he is in a good situation in New Orleans, on a winning team with a fan base that adores him.
Reggie is smart enough to know his value and not try to overplay his celebrity towards a contract he does not deserve and will not get. A grounded mindset is going to ensure that Bush takes the pay cut.
This most likely will lead to a contract extension with a decreased first year salary as opposed to the $11.8 million figure Reggie would get otherwise.
It helps that the New Orleans Saints and Sean Payton like Reggie and want to keep him on the team.
Both sides will obviously make an attempt to maximize their gains from an extension or restructuring of the contract.
As long as both sides are straightforward with Reggie’s value, not trying to inflate it or minimize it, then there is no reason that a deal can’t be done.