In Bill Polian’s years as an NFL general manager, he spent first-round draft picks on running backs five times: Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown with the Colts, Tim Biakabutuka with the Panthers and Ronnie Harmon with the Bills. So Polian values a good running back.
But Polian doesn’t think there’s much value in this year’s best free agent running back, Reggie Bush.
Polian said today on Mike and Mike in the Morning that he doesn’t see any team paying big money to acquire Bush, saying that Bush is aging and not a complete player.
“I don’t think he’s going to have that big a market, and I think the market is going to be lower than people might anticipate,” Polian said. “He’s not a three-down back anymore. He’s got seven years in, that’s a lot of shelf life for a running back. He’s had injuries. He’s not a great blocker — although he tries hard, I’m not denigrating him in any way, his body isn’t built to do that. He’s really a specialized back at this stage.”
It’s true that Bush has been in the league seven years and that he’s had some injuries, but it’s also true that Bush is younger and has had less wear and tear than most running backs who have been in the league seven years. Bush is only 28 years old (he was 20 when he left USC to declare for the NFL draft), and he has had only 967 career carries.
And as for the part about Bush not being a great blocker, the reality is that a team that signs Reggie Bush won’t be signing him to block. If you’ve got Reggie Bush on the field on a pass play, he’ll be running a pass pattern, not protecting the quarterback. It’s also worth noting that while Bush may have limitations as a blocker, he also can return kicks, so he brings an element on special teams that most running backs don’t.
A team like Detroit, which could use a back who can run 10 or 15 times a game, catch passes out of the backfield or as a slot receiver, and return kicks, would see a lot of value in a player with Bush’s skill set. Even if his body isn’t built to block.