The New Orleans Saints won’t be playing in the Super Bowl, which gives them more time to plan for the 2011 season. (That’s the best possible spin any team can put on not playing for the Lombardi Trophy.)
Part of the planning involves two key players: quarterback Drew Brees and running back Reggie Bush.
G.M. Mickey Loomis told Alex Marvez and Jim Miller of Sirius NFL Radio that getting a contract extension finalized for Brees remains a major priority.
“It’s pretty clear that we’re going to want to have Drew under contract for the long term,” Loomis said. “I know that will happen at some point. He knows that will happen at some point.”
Brees signed a six-year, $60 million deal in 2006. He’s entering the final year of the contract, which will pay him a below-market base salary of $7.4 million.
As to Bush, who’s due to earn a base salary of $11.8 million in the final year of the six-year contract he also inked in ’06, Loomis was pragmatic.
“We’ve talked a lot about the position because we had a lot of injuries,” Loomis said. “It’s pretty difficult to prognosticate injuries. I’ve got to be a little careful about just because a guy was hurt one year assuming he’s going to get hurt the next. We’re going through that evaluation process right now.”
In other words, Loomis realizes that the Saints didn’t get much of a return on the $8 million base-salary investment in Bush last year, given that Bush was gone for the majority of the season with a fractured fibula. Though Bush is willing to cut his pay to stay in New Orleans, the real question is whether even at a reduced price the Saints will be willing to devote that much money to him.
A year ago, an obvious alternative existed in Seattle, where former USC coach Pete Carroll had just been hired. The relationship between Carroll and Bush likely has become strained in the past year, however, with Carroll not providing Bush the kind of support that the player likely expected once the NCAA pounced on USC and pointed a crooked finger at the 2005 Heisman winner who ultimately became the 2005 Heisman loser.