METAIRIE â€“ IÂ suspect New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton spent part of Friday putting out a BUSH-fire in light of the teamâ€™s stunning first-round selection of Alabama running back Mark Ingram.
IÂ suspect Payton talked with Reggie Bush and explained to him the facts of NFL life; that RB25 still is a valued commodity and Ingramâ€™s arrival in New Orleans has no bearing on Bushâ€™s future with the Black and Gold. Â
IÂ suspect that Payton also told Bush to trust him, that he always shot squarely with him and Bush should not jump to hasty conclusions such as his Tweet heard 'round Who Dat Nation might suggest: â€œItâ€™s been fun New Orleans.â€™â€™ Â
Payton told SportsNOLA.comÂ that he conveyed those very thoughts to Bush during a productive heart-to-heart,Â reach-out-and-touch-someone-typeÂ phone call Friday A.M.
"It's easy to jump to conclusion after we took (Ingram) that Reggie no longer figures in our plans, but that's not the case,'' Payton said. "Reggie provides a different skill set for us than Ingram.
"I told Reggie just to do his job and let me take care of the touches.''
What seems certain after Thursday night isÂ the competition for touches increased exponentially among Saints running backs when General Manager Mickey Loomis andÂ Payton closed theÂ deal with the New England Patriots to jump into the 28th slot and select the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Â
In return, the Saints sent their second pick this year (the 56th overall selection) and a first-round pick in 2012 to the Patriots. Â
Consequently, the depth chart at running back on May 1 probably looks something like this: Â
-- (1) Mark Ingram (his job to lose). Â
-- (2) Pierre Thomas (recovering from ankle surgery) Â
-- (3) Chris Ivory (recovering from Lisfranc surgery) Â
-- (4) Reggie Bush (currently recovering from draftÂ shock and bruised ego) Â
-- (5) Lynell Hamilton (coming off reconstructive knee surgery) Â
The top three spots might be interchangeable at this point of the offseason in terms of the lead back, but Ingram gets the unofficial nod after going all out for NFL scouts, coaches and general managers during the past few months of the draft process. Â
Because of his skill set, Bush fills a different role than Ingram, Thomas, Ivory and even HamiltonÂ and is characterized as more of a scatback. Â
My initial reaction Thursday night was Bush suddenly became expendable and that he would be the odd man out among ball carriers because of economics since he is due a base salary of $11.8 million this season. Â
Iâ€™ve softened my position after a night of reflection. Iâ€™m not ready to color Bush gone just yet. He, perhaps, has one more season in Black and Gold.
In fact, the Bush-IngramÂ scene reminds me of the 2001 draft when Saints officials wisely selected Ole Miss running back Deuce McAllister in the 23rd slot of the first round with Ricky Williams still on the roster. McAllister and Williams co-existed in New Orleans for one season, then GM Randy Mueller dealt him to theÂ Miami Dolphins for two first-round picks and McAllister went on to Who Dat greatness.
In hindsight, while the McAllister pick initially seemed puzzling, Saints officials knew Williams' days were numbered in New Orleans and they merely were preparing for life thereafter.
Back to the present moment. Bush has said that he is amenable to reducing his base salary and Saints officials have said they want him back, albeitÂ at a lower price. In addition, Payton placesÂ a high value onÂ Bushâ€™s skill set, always has since acquiring him with the second overall pick in the 2006 draft ... just not $11.8 million.
So I'd say the ball is in Bush's court at the moment. He best not fumble.
Indeed, the hour glass is running out on RB25. Â
Mark my words.
NOTE: With the 56th pick acquired from New Orleans in the Ingram trade, the Patriots selected California running back Shane Vereen (5-10, 209).
|< Prev||Next >|