The same team that celebrated its good fortune when the Houston Texans chose defensive end Mario Williams in the draft, thereby allowing Bush to fall to New Orleans with the second pick, apparently is not as enamored with the former Heisman Trophy winner as it once was.
He is, of course, an electric athlete who is a threat to score from any spot on the field, with the ability to run the ball, catch passes out of the backfield, line up in a number of receiver spots and, of course, return punts and kickoffs.
But he is not yet an every-down back, or at least the Saints haven't used him that way, and with $20 million due over the last two years of his contract — including $8 million next season — he will be the highest-paid running back in the entire NFL. New Orleans owner Tom Benson apparently seems to think that's a little steep for a back who doesn't carry the ball 30 times per game.
So there are whispers out there that the Saints might cut Bush. Before they do, however, they certainly would explore all options on the trade market. Bush's college coach, Pete Carroll, just took the reins in Seattle, so the Seahawks are the first name most in the gossip world mention in connection with Bush.
The Cowboys should place a phone call to New Orleans, too.
The argument could be made that Dallas already has a Bush-type player in Felix Jones, and that's true — Jones also is a breathtaking open-field runner who can do many of the same things Bush can do, and he's a whole lot cheaper than Bush (Jones is getting ready to enter the third season of a five-year contract worth just over $10.5 million).
So why should Dallas explore a Bush deal? Money.
Serious discussions between the teams certainly will start with Jones as the centerpiece of any compensation the Saints want. A Bush-for-Jones deal as a straight-up swap makes no financial sense, so there would be two options: either Dallas gets Bush and a ton of cash, which Benson undoubtedly would refuse, or the Saints might be coerced into sending Bush and extra compensation to Dallas just to alleviate the financial strain Bush would put on the Dallas budget.
Would Dallas trade Jones for Bush and an extra high draft pick, like a second- or third-rounder? Or could the Cowboys talk the Saints into parting with a young offensive lineman in addition to Bush, in thanks for taking on Bush's contract?
Remember, the Cowboys have money — lots of money — and chances are good that the 2010 season will be played without a salary cap, so if they decide to pursue Bush, they can afford him. Yes, they might have to re-do his contract in a year to swallow the $12 million hit in 2011, but if they like his on-field performance, they could reduce that hit through the structuring of an extension.
Yes, it's a longshot. While Jerry Jones does have deep pockets, and makes a fortune through marketing and corporate sponsorships at the team's new stadium, it is believed that the 2010 is the only season that will be played without a cap, so he would have to fit Bush into a salary structure in 2011, which is about the time he'll have to decide whether to offer big-bucks extensions to some core players like Jason Witten and Jay Ratliff.
But Jones also has shown he is not afraid to take a big risk in order to make a big splash. He desperately wants his team to win, but he also wants his team to be a national headline and a national topic of discussion. He wants to sell tickets and jerseys and hats and t-shirts. The man knows how to run a business, and he knows how to make money, and if he had Bush doing national commercials while helping to lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl in their own building, he'd be ecstatic. (How long would it be until we see a national commercial featuring Kim Kardashian as an honorary member of the Cowboys cheerleaders? OK, maybe that's a little much … maybe.)
Bush-to-Dallas has to be dubbed unlikely, at least. But the finances behind it make it less ludicrous than at first glance.
The Cowboys are pleased with the performance and development of Felix Jones, but they would be smart to at least place a call to New Orleans to see if the rumors that the Saints want to dump Bush are true. If they are, the Cowboys owe it to themselves and their fans to see if there's some way they can arrange something similar to a Herschel Walker-type of heist. A promising young player or a high draft pick just might be enough to entice Dallas to take on Bush's contract, and could make an already-good team even better.
Reggie Bush … in Dallas?
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