Saints

2011 Saints: Time to Let Reggie Bush Play Somewhere Else?

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For the money he’s making and the amount of time he spends on the field, many New Orleans Saints fans feel it’s time to let running back Reggie Bush ply his trade somewhere else in the NFL. And you can’t blame them really, considering his stats.

The 26-year-old Bush is under contract for another season and is due to take home $11.8 million. But he doesn’t really earn it according to many. He’s been in the league for five seasons now, but has only managed to play all 16 games just once, which was his rookie year. He’s missed 20 games since then, including half of last season.

When he does play, he doesn’t really have much of a positive impact in many games, especially the big ones. The Saints wildcard defeat by Seattle last season was a prime example when he carried the ball five times for just 12 yards, and caught five passes for a total of 37 yards, not to mention dropping the ball on a possible early touchdown and then leaving the game with another injury.

There’s no doubt Bush has some talent, but he only shows glimpses of it. He’ll make a great play, but not on a consistent enough basis to make the big money. He didn’t score a rushing touchdown last season and scored just one as a receiver. He didn’t score one as a punt returner either.

This puts him near the back of the class when you realize 100 players scored rushing touchdowns and 50 others scored them as receivers. You can’t really single out the punt returns, but 10 players managed it. However, his punt return average was 6.6 yards, good for 52nd place in the league. In fact, if you study the numbers you’ll find Bush’s don’t translate to anywhere near $11.8 million.

The Saints could use Bush as just a slot receiver/kick-punt returner as he doesn’t seem to have it as full-time running back. It’s doubtful he’d succeed as a wide receiver. If he’s used as a kickoff returner his chances of being injured would increase though.

The Saints say they want to keep Bush and head coach Sean Payton says he’d be surprised if he leaves. However, Bush wasn’t too pleased when the team selected Mark Ingram with the 28th overall pick in the recent NFL draft. It looks like Ingram could be the starter, followed by a battle between Bush and Pierre Thomas, and Chris Ivory is also in the backfield. But Payton said Ingram doesn’t have any effect on Bush’s future with the Saints.

The numbers say differently though, and it’s likely they’ll ask Bush to play for less or just let him go. Bush himself tweeted a message after the draft that would indicate he’s on his way out the door because it’s unlikely he’ll take a pay cut.

Bush is a luxury that the Saints and many other NFL teams can’t afford. It would surprise many if he’s still a Saint when next season starts. They should just cut him loose if he won’t play for less and let him explore the market.