After the Saints traded back into the first round of the 2011 draft, giving up their 2012 first-round pick to do so, and landed 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram, tailback Reggie Bush presumed the worst.
Quarterback Drew Brees has tried to persuade Reggie to be positive.
Brees tells the Associated Press that he texted Bush words of encouragement not long after Bush posted his “It’s been fun New Orleans” message on Twitter. “I think that’s just frustration a little bit, just because they draft a guy at your position,” Brees said. “But I think the message that was sent to him was, ‘By no means look at that as . . . you’re getting shown the door, that we don’t want you,’ or anything like that.”
Brees recalls 2006, when Bush arrived via round one only five years after the Saints had used a first-round pick on Deuce McAllister. “Deuce handled that situation better than anybody ever could have and he had one of his best seasons in 2006,” Brees said. “He was a huge part of our success. I think Reggie has that same potential to be that big a part of our success this year despite the fact that we’ve got three other guys.”
The problem, of course, is compensation. With those “three other guys” (Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Chris Ivory) on the roster, it makes no sense to pay $11.8 million to a part-time player.
And here’s the reality. No one else will pay Bush anything close to that amount. He’s not, and he never will be, a workhorse. He’s a niche player, a punt-returner and a pass catcher who’ll from time to time run between the tackles. His value to any other team will be no greater than it is to the Saints. In fact, the Saints would probably be willing to pay him more than any other team would offer on the open market.
Bush seemed to acknowledge that reality in January, after the Saints exited the playoffs in Seattle. “I’m open to whatever is going to help me stay here,” Bush said at the time. “Obviously, with that said, you have to be fair to yourself. You have to be fair to whatever the market sets. I’m not stupid or dumb. I know that obviously there’s going to have to be some type of restructuring going on here. With that said, you’ve just got to kind of hash it out as best as you can. Negotiations, things can go a million different ways.”
Of course, the way things went included the Saints picking Ingram, which gives them extra leverage in their eventual negotiations with Bush.
In the end, we still think the Saints will be willing to pay him more than anyone else would pay him — unless there’s a team that simply wants to the name on the back of the jersey without regard to what the guy wearing it actually brings to the table at this point in his career.