Sean Payton Does Not Deny Saints May Be Interested in Darren Sproles

Randy SavoieAnalyst IIJuly 28, 2011

Darren Sproles has a similar skill set to the departed Reggie Bush.
Darren Sproles has a similar skill set to the departed Reggie Bush.Harry How/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton told reporters that San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles is a player who possesses a similar skill set to Reggie Bush and did not deny that the team is interested in acquiring his services.

However, Payton said he is well pleased with the group of running backs currently on the roster and that Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory seem to be progressing well as they both return from injuries suffered last season.

Thomas has passed the team's physical.

The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that Sproles will soon decide between playing for the Chargers, Saints and Eagles.

ESPN's Bill Williamson says "I don’t think the Chargers are going to offer the moon, so Sproles is probably looking at a smaller deal than expected. The Chargers could use him, but I think the team is also OK if he leaves."

Sproles is now third on the depth chart behind Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert and is not happy with his lack of opportunities.It's common knowledge in San Diego that he will sign somewhere else relatively quickly.

As recently as May, Chargers head coach Norv Turner expressed a strong desire to keep Sproles, a versatile third-down back who can play in the slot and return kicks.

Reggie Bush's desire to leave New Orleans had to do with "touches" says Sean Payton.
Reggie Bush's desire to leave New Orleans had to do with "touches" says Sean Payton.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Sproles would have come at a steep price just a couple of years ago.

The Chargers placed the franchise tag on him in February of 2009 and reportedly another team would have to had surrendered first and third-round draft choices to acquire the diminutive yet dynamic San Diego running back.

According to Payton, by 3:00p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Bush and the Saints mutually agreed it was time to part ways.

Payton said after several conversations with Bush that it was evident the team would not be able to agree on a new deal to keep the former Heisman trophy winner in New Orleans. The Saints head coach said Reggie felt torn between his loyalty to Saints fans and a chance for a new start in Miami.


In 2006, New Orleans was still reeling from Hurricane Katrina and Payton said that the drafting of Bush was both a momentum builder both for the rebuilding football team and for the city's damaged psyche. However, Payton said it quickly became evident that Bush would never be able to live up the enormous expectations of some.

Payton said he hoped for a multi-talented player that could have an impact on offense, defense and special teams when he used a first-round pick on Bush in 2006 and he said Bush filled those expectations when he played a key role in leading the team to a Super Bowl in 2009. Payton says Bush will always be remembered as a special player on the Super Bowl team of '09.

As far as his reputation on around the league, Payton says Bush is both respected and feared by opposing players and coaches alike.

However the only things many Saints fans feared lately about Bush was whether he could handle a punt deep inside his own territory or manage to stay healthy for an entire season. His propensity for fumbling punts inside the 20 yard-line as well as the number of games he missed due to injury over the years became a running joke on local morning radio shows.



Payton says he believes Bush's decision to leave had as much to do with a desire for a new start as it did with money.

Miami is thin at running back and Bush expressed to Payton his desire to play for a team where he could "get more touches." He said had Bush chosen to return to New Orleans but refused a pay cut in all likelihood he would have been released.

And, yet, with Chad Henne at QB and the Dolphins' shaky offensive line, most of those extra touches Reggie receives may be supplied by opposing defenses.