If you haven’t heard by now, Reggie Bush has agreed to a trade that would send him from the New Orleans Saints to the Miami Dolphins for a potential draft pick and a player. The deal was contingent on him agreeing to a restructured 2-year deal worth $10 million which he did. To not have done so would have meant the collapse of the deal and Reggie finding himself cut from the Saints and out on the streets. He would have gotten a job elsewhere, but it’s unlikely he’d be netting $5 million a season.
To be fair, the writing was on the wall since the season ended so many months back on a cold Seattle afternoon. Reggie was going to be owed more than $11 million this season alone and another $12 million next season. Even the biggest Reggie supporter can see that the Saints were never going to make those payments. Not with the large amount of in-house free agents that were coming down the pipeline. Not with a major deal in the works for QB Drew Brees.
Most importantly, Reggie couldn’t justify those kind of wages when he hasn’t been healthy and productive for a long time (as in almost his entire career).
In 6 seasons, he has rushed for a total of 2,090 yards and 17 TDs — with high marks coming on his rookie season of 2006 with 565 yards and 6 TDs. When combining his rushing and receiving marks, his career total becomes 4,232 yards and 29 TDs — again, his 2006 season being his individual best (1,307 yards and 8 TDs). And of course, you should add in his 4 punt returns for TDs (3 of them in 2008) and 7.8 punt return average.
What’s more disturbing is that those numbers have been in decline ever since. By last season, hampered by his injuries, he played only 8 games and netted 358 yards with 1 TD. His injury track record was such that he had been replaced in the offense by two undrafted RBs, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory. Even when they were both injured and the opportunity arose for Reggie to step forward, he seemed unable to rise up and seize it. In the game against Seattle, he had 12 yards on 5 attempts and 37 yards on 5 catches. A bad way to try and justify an $11.8 million paycheck.
But what was worse was than the injuries were the fumbles. For a RB/KR/PR who has 21 career TDs to have 19 fumbles (with 10 of them lost to the other team) was inexcusable. His running style, so dazzling in the college level, seemed to leave him exposed to turning the ball over. I still remember the 2009 NFC Championship Game and how he let the ball go through his hands at around the 20-yard line. Had it not been for Adrian Petersen’s own fumbling issues during that game, Reggie might have had to leave town that night.
But if I sound entirely negative about Reggie’s time in New Orleans, then allow me to end that right now. While there were issues and disappointments with him, there was never a time I didn’t like him playing for the Saints. From the moment his arrival became eminent – the night before Draft Day 2006, when the Texans chose Mario Williams – the entire city was abuzz. People called, texted and e-mailed one another. They jammed radio lines. I still recall getting texts from people I didn’t even like about how thrilled they were – it meant that much to the fans. It was a sign that things were turning around for the Saints.
Furthermore, Reggie was the consummate professional and took an active part in helping the city post-Katrina. He embraced being part of the team and of the city. Never a bad word about New Orleans left his lips and he became a lightning rod around which the rest of the nation could see the changes in the Crescent City. He willingly lined up alongside Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, Marques Colston and the rest of the team and became heralds of the return of New Orleans. People became aware of the Saints before they were “the Saints” because of Reggie.
And the moment when his performances matched the expectations? That game against the Niners where he scored 4 touchdowns? The Monday night game against Minnesota where it was a duel between him and Adrian Petersen? The playoff game against Arizona where he literally brought the lumber and then proceeded to figuratively run the same way? Great games all.
Yes, I’m going to miss Reggie. I’m disappointed that things couldn’t work out better for all involved, but I don’t think there’s acrimony between the fans and him – as is so often the case when a high-profile player leaves for a new home. Everyone understands that this is the business of the NFL. More importantly, Reggie is likely in need of a new scene and a new chance. Miami suits his glamour and his lifestyle better and the Dolphins are in desperate need of running help.
Good luck Reggie! (Not against the Saints mind you). Now to find out what Saints jersey to get next!