NFL Network Insider Jason La Canfora recently looked at some players around the NFL who have contracts that are likely “too hefty” for their teams’ liking. Some players, he foresees, will simply restructure their contracts, while others will be released. Among those players likely to be released are New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush. Recall that the Saints moved up in the draft by trading with the Patriots to select Alabama RB Mark Ingram. Shortly thereafter, Bush tweeted, “It’s been fun New Orleans,” signifying that he expected to be looking for a new home this season.
While the Saints have said that they want Reggie Bush around, La Canfora is right when he said, “No other running back — especially a situational one — is making this kind of salary ($11.8 million) right now.” The Saints will likely look for Bush to restructure his salary to look more like a player who gets 6-8 touches per game if they do want Bush around. However, I don’t see Bush accepting either circumstance — a lower salary or only 6 to 8 touches per game. Among Bush’s possible future landing spots, La Canfora puts the New England Patriots as a possible destination.
Would the Patriots be interested in a player like Reggie Bush?
Before we delve into that question, let’s establish what Reggie Bush is NOT. Reggie Bush is not an every-down back. Reggie Bush is not a between-the-tackles runner. Reggie Bush is also not a player that you can build your entire offense around. What Reggie Bush IS, is a player who you can move around the field and line up wherever you’d like to create a mismatch. He is also a player who has the potential to change the game whenever he touches the ball.
While the Patriots drafted two backs in the NFL Draft this past April, I still feel that they will be in the sweepstakes for Reggie Bush should he be released. Young running backs are always an unknown commodity (see Laurence Maroney and Terrell Davis as examples of opposite sides of that dynamic) and having too many good backs is a better problem than not having enough. There are no other backs on the Patriots’ roster that have Reggie Bush’s skill set and blend of speed, shiftiness, athleticism, and pass-catching ability. There are players who have bits and pieces of those skills, but not the total package.
I’d be very anxious to see all of the different ways the Pats would use Reggie Bush in their offensive system, and I’m sure offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien would be chomping at the bit and re-writing a portion of the playbook should Bush join the team. While Bush wouldn’t be the centerpiece, he’d be an exciting compliment and weapon for Tom Brady. He could line as a traditional running back, in the slot, as an outside receiver, or anywhere else the Pats can dream of lining him up. Can you imagine what Bush could do catching the RB screens or bubble screens the Pats love to use?
What adds value to Bush as well in Bill Belichick’s eyes is his willingness to play special teams, and would give the Pats tremendous depth in the return department in addition to Wes Welker, Julian Edleman, Brandon Tate, and possibly Kevin Faulk. So while Reggie Bush would not be the bruiser Pats fans have been craving (BenJarvus Green-Ellis has done well filling that role), he would add a whole new dynamic to the team and keep opposing defensive coordinators awake at night.