For weeks if not months, league observers have assumed that the New Orleans Saints won’t pay $8 million in base salary to a part-time tailback and above-average punt returner who sells a lot of jerseys.
Winning the Super Bowl possibly changes that.
As Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune points out, the Saints probably can’t risk giving Bush the take-a-pay-cut-or-take-a-hike ultimatum. If Bush, who is beloved in New Orleans, leaves the team, the current Bayou vibe would be severely damaged.
The problem is that Bush has greater value to the Saints than to any other team, but he’s worth $8 million in base salary to no one. So Bush ultimately needs to ask himself whether he’s willing to take a minor haircut in order to continue flaunting the fleur-de-lis, or whether he’s willing to risk getting his head shaved if he hits the open market.
Here’s where tampering can be of great value to a player. Bush needs to know what other teams will pay him before he decides whether to take the last, best offer the Saints make. And while it’s not in the Saints’ interests to have other teams disrupt their relationship with Bush, in this instance it might be prudent to quietly give Bush and his agent, Joel Segal, permission to talk to other teams about the kind of deal they would do if Bush were to be available via trade.
With that strategy comes considerable risk; if word of a possible trade gets out, it might be impossible to bring Reggie back. (See Cutler, Jay.)
Then again, there’s no reason for the Saints to give Bush permission to do that which his agent will be doing anyway. Indeed, does anyone think that Bush hasn’t been in contact with his former college coach, who now happens to coach the Seahawks?
But Seattle might not be the best landing spot for Bush. With offensive coordinator Mike Martz hell bent on cramming the square peg of his playbook into round hole of the Chicago roster, Bush if healthy could become a Marshall Faulk/Priest Holmes weapon for the Bears.
Regardless of how it all turns out, it’ll be interesting to see whether Saints owner Tom Benson opts to overpay Bush in the hopes of keeping the peace. From a football standpoint, it doesn’t make sense; from a business standpoint, maybe it does.
Until, that is, other players who contribute more than Bush to the on-field effort begin to argue that if Bush is worth $8 million in base salary, they should be getting at least $10 million.