Reggie Bush’s career with the New Orleans Saints has been loaded with ups and downs. He was an important piece to their Super Bowl run last season, providing a much needed spark in the playoffs that lifted the team to victory against Arizona in the divisional round.
However, he has also had some negative moments in his five seasons in New Orleans. There were whispers in New Orleans of Bush’s lack of commitment to the team in the offseason of 2007, the negative attention brought in from the NCAA investigations, and problems staying healthy. Bush is owed $11.8 million in 2011 under his current contract; does New Orleans really need Bush to return to the Super Bowl?
Bush’s career has been disappointing to say the least. The former Heisman winner was one of the most highly touted college players entering the NFL draft in 2006. He was viewed as a threat each time he touched the field in 2006, but with each passing year, the threat of Reggie Bush dwindles. New Orleans is loaded with talent on offense, and Drew Brees distributes the ball better than any quarterback in the NFL.
Let’s take a look at the top five reasons the Saints should cut ties with Reggie Bush.
POWER RUNNING GAME
Although the Saints have one of the top passing attacks in the league, the power running game is the key to their success. Due to the injury of Pierre Thomas in Week 1, the Saints rushing statistics fell drastically in 2010. The team rushed the ball 380 times in 2010(down from 468 in 2009) for only 1,519 yards(down from 2,106 in 2010).
However, the Saints found the future in rookie Chris Ivory. Ivory led the team in rushing with 716 yards averaging 5.2YDS/ATT.
Pierre Thomas is due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2011, and the Saints are in need of another power back to complement Chris Ivory. The Saints have attempted to use Bush as a between the tackles runner in the past with little success. The Saints could possibly re-sign Thomas; however, with the knee problems he’s had, the team may go in another direction.
Reggie Bush has played one full 16 game season with New Orleans in his five year career, and that was his rookie season in 2006. Since then, Bush has missed a total of 20 regular season games due to injury. Bush has had problems with leg injuries throughout his career; he left the Wild Card game in Seattle in the fourth quarter with a left leg injury.
Due to the injuries in 2010, Bush suffered through his worst year in his career. Many believe he’s lost a step with the multiple injuries to his legs and the numbers prove that fact. In 2010, he rushed the ball 36 times for 150 yards, had 34 receptions for 208 yards, and recorded one touchdown.
Whether or not he can regain his quickness remains to be seen, but paying him $11.8 million in 2011 is a hefty price to find out.
Due to the injuries of Bush, Lance Moore stepped up and filled that void well for the Saints. As a dual threat receiver and punt returner, Moore has proven to be a valuable asset in Bush’s absence. Moore, who has become one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets, led the Saints in touchdowns (eight) and was second on the team in receiving yards (763).
Moore is due to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Although he has stated that his preference is to stay in New Orleans, he could end up signing elsewhere. The Saints are a different offense without either Lance Moore or Reggie Bush; with Moore being less injury and mistake prone, the Saints should lean towards re-signing him.
REGGIE BUSH MAKES TO MANY MISTAKES
FUMBLES. DROPPED PASSES. MENTAL ERRORS.
These have plagued Bush throughout his career.
Bush was one of the most explosive players in the league pre-injury. In 2008, he had 270 punt return yards and recorded three touchdowns. Many believed he would challenge Devin Hester(Chicago Bears) for the top returner in the league for years to come.
However, the negative statistics have a greater impact than his positive performances. Bush has 19 career fumbles, 10 of which resulted in turnovers. In a key game against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, Bush fumbled a punt return that nearly cost New Orleans the game. Bush also has a tendency to force plays during returns; in many cases, this results in lost yards or turnovers.
Reggie Bush is scheduled to receive $11.8 million during the 2011 season. Bush has stated on several occasions that he prefers to stay in New Orleans; he’s also willing to restructure his contract and take less money.
During a recent interview on Sirius NFL Radio, Saints GM Mickey Loomis explained that he wouldn’t “jump” at re-signing Bush since they’ve yet to decide on the their backfield situation. Many experts believe the Saints should make a decision regarding Pierre Thomas before Reggie Bush.
If the Saints can retain Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas, the need for Reggie Bush on the roster fades. Although Bush has shown potential, the Saints power running game prevents him from controlling the ball in space. Bush could make the move to wide receiver, but with the Saints depth at the position, there is little need for an extra receiver on the roster.