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NFL Trades 2011: Trading Reggie Bush Was Great for the New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Reggie Bush #25  of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by Alex Magee #97 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Louisiana Superdome on January 2, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.   The Buccaneers defeated the Saints 23-13.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Carl RagsdaleCorrespondent IIIJuly 31, 2011

During the past week, the New Orleans Saints traded running back Reggie Bush to the Miami Dolphins.

Bush, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, served primarily as the third-down back and a kick returner for the Saints. At times he could be effective, but he has been wildly inconsistent and has not played all 16 games in a season a single time since his rookie year.

The Saints used a high first round pick in the draft to get Bush and were due to pay him $11.8 million this season.

Reggie Bush was a solid role player, but was getting paid far more than he deserved for his role on the team.

You don't pay $11.8 million for a running back who has never rushed for more than 581 yards in a season.

You don't pay $11.8 million for a solid role player who's not even one of the five best players on your own team.

Trading Bush was the obvious move for the Saints, but the much less publicized move was the signing of former San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles.

What the Saints have obtained with Sproles is a running back who is capable of playing the exact same role that Reggie Bush played in the same offense, for about 30 percent of the price.

Sproles has served as a third-down running back and kick returner for the Chargers once LaDainian Tomlinson began to decline, and has been highly effective in that role. For his career, Sproles averages 4.6 yards per rush and 9.6 yards per reception, both of which are significantly better than Bush (4.0 yards per rush and 7.3 yards per reception).

Darren Sproles also has not missed a game due to injury for each of the past three years, which is an added bonus.

While Sproles does not have anywhere near the amount of hype that Reggie Bush does, he is more than capable of filling the void left by Bush.

With Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas getting the bulk of carries in the running game, Sproles can continue to play the role that he played in San Diego as the explosive third-down running back and a kick returner. 

The Saints were absolutely brilliant for making this move to save cap space, and expect their offense to continue to be among the most dominant in the NFL.

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