Bradley Handwerger / Eyewitness Sports
METAIRIE, La. ― Reggie Bush will enter the final year of his contract set to earn $11.8 million.
And he in no way believes that he’ll be back in New Orleans for that kind of money.
“Common sense would tell you probably not,” Bush said Tuesday as players cleaned out their lockers at the Saints’ Airline Drive facility. “But most likely not. We’ll see what happens.”
But that in no way means Bush won’t be back in a Saints uniform whenever the league and players come together on a new collective bargaining agreement.
In fact, Bush would prefer he remain in the Crescent City playing for head coach Sean Payton and alongside quarterback Drew Brees.
“I’m open to whatever is going to help me stay here,” Bush said. “Obviously, with that said, you have to be fair to yourself. You have to be fair to whatever the market sets. I’m not stupid or dumb. I know that obviously there’s going to have to be some type of restructuring going on here. With that said, you’ve just got to kind of hash it out as best as you can. Negotiations, things can go a million different ways.
“My No. 1 goal is to be back here, be a New Orleans Saint and hopefully be able to play my career out here.”
Cost of services, however, could be the major sticking point in re-negotiations.
Bush has missed nearly 21 percent of the games he has been with New Orleans, sitting out 18 of 86 contests with knee injuries and broken bones.
This season, he missed eight of 17 games with a broken right fibula and never got into rhythm. Saturday in the Saints’ season-ending loss at Seattle, Bush took himself out the game in the third quarter after bruising the area around his shin that he fractured in September.
He finished 2010 with 36 carries for 150 yards and 23 catches for 34 yards. He had only one touchdown and fumbled the ball away once.
For that, he earned $8 million.
“I know what I make this year and I know that I want to go out there and give you $8 million worth,” Bush said. “Obviously I don’t call the plays. I’m not the offensive coordinator. I’m not the coach. I can do as much as what allows me. Now, given that I did get injured, which kept me out a bulk of the season, obviously that factors into it.
“For me as a player and as a competitor, that chips away at me and who I am.”
He recognizes that, at least for this season, what he produced on the field wasn’t worth what New Orleans paid him.
“It is what it is and obviously I don’t think I was able to live up to those expectations from a money standpoint,” Bush said. “It sucks and it’s disappointing.”
Bush said he’s willing to work with the team in hammering out a deal that will give him the money he desires, including not necessarily giving into not making $11.8 million in 2011, while also helping the team fit in under whatever rules the new CBA will eventually set.
His analogy? Buying a Ferrari for more money than it’s actually worth.
“If you’ve got a Ferrari that’s worth a certain amount of money and the market is telling you it’s something else, you’ve got to be fair to both sides,” Bush said. “You can’t just buy a Ferrari for $300 grand and the market is telling you $250.”
He realizes he could be elsewhere next season, but that’s not his first choice.
“I want o be here,” Bush said. “Stranger things have happened but I want to be here and the organization knows I want to be here. I love this city and the fans here. I’d love to be able to end my career here.”