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Looming Bush contract talks a dilemma but also an opportunity

At some point within the next month the Dolphins and the agent representing Reggie Bush will discuss what precisely to do about the contract status of the team's most impressive player so far this season.

Bush, the NFL's second-leading rusher, is in the final year of his contract. And although neither side pushed the other to get an extension signed before the start of this season -- with both thinking they held a good hand and both comfortable of the future -- the questions now begin to resonate:

Can the Dolphins afford to keep their best player before he hits free agency?

Can the Dolphins afford to let their best player walk away in free agency?

A few weeks ago, before he exploded onto this 2012 season, Bush was seemingly being set up for replacement by the Dolphins. Not only had they not talked to super agent Joel Segal about a new deal but last year they drafted Daniel Thomas in the second round and this year added highly regarded Lamar Miller in the fourth round.

In the world of well-run NFL franchises, that's how it is done. You acquire a running back. Use him up. Then you let him go before having to spend big money on what is increasingly a diminishing asset in today's pass-happy NFL.

The Dolphins did that with Ronnie Brown. And that's what they seemed to be doing with Bush.

Fact is, that still may be the plan. If the Dolphins decide re-signing Bush to a contract extension is too expensive, they might simply move forward with their younger, albeit unproven replacements that are already on the team and were drafted to be the next and less expensive guys up.

But Bush has thrown a wrench into this possible course of action by simply being everything the Dolphins could have wanted from him and much, much, more.

He is a threat from anywhere on the field as his 65-yard run Sunday against Oakland proved.

He has been not only willing, but actually eager to be a workhorse. He led the team with 216 carries last season and is on pace for 320 carries this season -- although that probably won't be sustainable.

Bush is the team's hardest working player. I did not say he's one of Miami's the hardest working players. He is the hardest worker on the team. It is a rare day when practice ends and Bush isn't pushing a sled or running sprints afterward. 

Bush also has stayed relatively healthy, reporting for duty in 17 of a possible 18 games.

The guy has been a beast. Even offensive coordinator Mike Sherman marvels at his ability to run between the tackles and stay fresh.

"I remember Reg when he came out of college and they didn’t ask him a whole lot in that regard, and he was so much faster than everybody else that is was easier to run around them than through them," Sherman said. "But, when I study the tapes form last year, certainly he did that numerous times, and has done that for us too. The durability is what amazes me. He’s out there today like he didn’t even play a game yesterday running around and doing what he does. (He’s) a very impressive young man, no question about that.”

Bush's value around  the league has increased dramatically since he arrived in Miami. And his value in Miami has increased dramatically the past couple of games. So it stands to reason the longer the Dolphins wait to attend to a possible contract extension, the higher the price to re-sign Bush will get because somebody will surely be happy to sign a 27-year-old playmaker in his prime.

Now, I suppose the Dolphins can play hardball and say they'll think about Bush's status at the end of the season, gambling that he slows down and his value declines. That would be an ironic way to attend to this matter because if that's the approach the Dolphins would be banking on Bush not playing as well as he currently is while also hoping, for the team's sake, that he plays better than he is now.

Segal, meanwhile, can play hardball as well. He can simply set a price for Bush and say if the Dolphins don't meet it, he'll become a free agent and go to the highest bidder. And if Bush continues his current trajectory, he's going to be more expensive after the season than he is now. The Bush camp would be betting that Bush is hitting his stride and what you see the past two games is what you'll see the next 14 games.

What makes most sense? Everyone needs to be reasonable.

The Dolphins need to realize Bush is one of their few offensive weapons and they should be in the business of adding weapons for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, not subtracting them.

The Dolphins should realize that Thomas has proven nothing so far as a player. Banking on him to replace Bush is wishful thinking at this point. Yes, Miller was very, very promising in his first game on Sunday, gaining 65 yards as Bush's replacement.

But they should like the idea of having both Bush and Miller in what amounts to a stable of one home run hitter and a player who was a home run hitter in college.

Segal, meanwhile, needs to realize his client has it pretty good down here. He gets the carries he wants. He lives in a town he likes. The team is going to improve as Tannehill gets more experience. And because the Dolphins know Bush best and have milked him for his highest pro production, maybe it would serve him to stay here.

So what is Reggie Bush worth?

That's not my business to judge. It's up to Reggie Bush, his agent, and the Dolphins. But you can believe this is a topic that will soon be on the table for the team and the player. And it will be very interesting to see how it eventually plays out.

Comments

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And here is a list of free agent WRs and TEs in 2013.

Lee Evans – BAL
David Reed – BAL (R)
Donald Jones – BUF
Steve Smith – CAR
Johnny Knox – CHI
Brandon Tate – CIN
Josh Cribbs – CLE
Mohamed Massaquoi – CLE
Donald Driver – GB
Greg Jennings – GB
Derrick Mason – HOU
Austin Collie – IND
Blair White – IND (R)
Jason Hill – JAC
Kassim Osgood – JAC
Brian Robiskie – JAC
Dwayne Bowe – KC
Robert Wallace – MIA (R)
Julian Edelman – NE
Wes Welker – NE
Devery Henderson – NO
Ramses Barden – NYG
Victor Cruz – NYG (R)
Louis Murphy – OAK
Arnaz Battle – PIT
Emanuel Sanders – PIT (R)
Mike Wallace – PIT
Deon Butler – SEA
Malcom Floyd – SD
Brandon Gibson – STL
Sammie Stroughter – TB
Anthony Armstrong – WAS (R)
Brandon Banks – WAS (R)
Jabar Gaffney – WAS

Tight Ends:
Tony Gonzalez – ATL
Ed Dickson – BAL (R)
Dennis Pitta – BAL (R)
Shawn Nelson – BUF
Ben Watson – CLE
John Phillips – DAL
Richard Dickerson – DET (R)
Will Heller – DET
Tom Crabtree – GB (R)
Justin Snow – IND
Zach Miller – JAC
Anthony Fasano – MIA
Travis Beckum – NYG
Martellus Bennett – NYG
Jeff Cumberland – NYJ (R)
Dustin Keller – NYJ
Brandon Myers – OAK
Heath Miller – PIT
Cameron Morrah – SEA
Delaine Walker – SF
Jared Cook – TEN
Logan Paulsen – WAS (R)
Fred Davis – WAS

I'm almost certain we will get one of the Green Bay receivers. I can't see a more perfect fit. But there are plenty of options for both positions in free agency. So yeah, Bush will be signed if Miller doesn't wow everyone.

Craig, I'm saying Long is a very good T, but he's lost a little. He allowed 1 1/2 sacks against the Raiders. That 1/2 is because Miller went the wrong way on a blitz pickup, and Long didn't have the quickness to block the LB. He's very good, but elite I don't know.

Phins78,

I agree with most of your post. But I don't really believe they NEED REggie next year. I'm not saying he's not a great player and I'm not saying he can't be useful but as you've indicated RB isn't featured prominently in the type of WCO Philbin likes to run. GB never had a running back making $8-10 mil a year and I don't believe the Dolphins will have that either. Instead I believe the money will be spent on resignoing our own FAs and looking to upgrade WR, TE and maybe S.

Aren't MOST of the guys on here the ones who said this is a passing league now? Why then would we spend $8 mil on a 28 year old RB? I recognize that Bush does a LOT more than just run the ball but is it real smart business to be tying $35-40 mil up in a single player?

Craig, I'm not saying give him CJ money which was what - I forget, but it was astronomical. But what about Forte money?

In order to win in this league you can't do it with a bunch of guys in their 5th year or less. Don't forget, contracts are not guaranteed so walking away after a couple of years is not so bad. If he wants it front loaded, so what, I don't care, not my money, as long as the cap hit isn't outrageous. You need guys - strong team leaders between the ages of 28-32. Can't do it with just young guys or just old guys. If Bush was four years older or had more mileage, I'd say buyer beware but he's got lots left it appears.

Despite what many say, Ireland has done a decent job in getting guys like Starks, Long, Smith, and Bush. Can't just let them walk. I don;'t think they are as far as most here. A matter of Tannehill becoming a top 15 Qb and you'll see how close this team is.

Im not a Long basher. Saw a few times this year Long "seemingly gave up sack" because there was an "overload blitz" on his side. That's qb's responsibility to see that at the line before the snap.

Young Tannehill didnt pick that up and "walked" into the sack on Long's side. Every tackle in this league will get beat one on one at times. Long's no exception. However, you will never see Long get beat one on one on anything resembling a consistent basis.

There's not much a LT can do if his qb loses pocket awareness focus and walks into the pass rusher on his side. Ive seen several occassions where the young T'hill still needs better "pocket awareness. Some homers here watch the games and still dont understand what they're seeing.

Craig, Tennesee has plenty of weapons. It's a matter of that QB maturing there too.

Bush isn't that kind of "I'm happy I'm going to get lazy" kind of guy but he isn't worth $8 million against the cap. Are we thinking about uttilizing him between the tackles and then breaks down in another year because of the workload? If we sign Bush to an 8 million dollar (4yr/32m) that leaves us with roughly 35m in cap space for Long, Smith, Starks. If all 3 of those guys take up at least 7 million a year (smith maybe less but long probably more) for cap space that's 24m we have to spend on FAs and draft picks. Take away another 6-8 million for our high draft picks and we're left with 16 million to spend on FAs. It's not bad, but when we're relevant and competing in 2 years we're going to want that space for the big FAs rather than strap us down now when we aren't going anywhere.

Also within 2 years you'll have to pay for Solai, Pouncey (who we PAY), and incognito

Mark,

Good points. I just think it's going to take a contract similar to what Williams got in Carolina and when I look at that contract and the contract CJ got and even the contract that Marshall, in hindsight NONE of them were good deals. There's other places I'd rathre see the money spent and I believe the combination of Thomas, Miller and another vet could get the job done. If Bush were prepared to do a 2-3 three deal for reasonable money then I'm all or it. I don't see it happening.

You don't have to sign Bush, franchise him. Then try to sign Long to s reasonable contract. If you franchise Long you're going to have to pay him 15% above what he makes now (Franchise rules), that about 14/15 million. You can't have do that.

Mark, only dispute I have is Forte is younger than Bush.

Sorry they have to pay him 20% above his previous salary if it's equal to the average of the top 5 salaries.

Im out. All of this amatuer gm-ship and capology is killing me with laughter. What counts is what the fo really does. Not what's being discussed here in la-la-land. LOL

Craig, many 5 year contracts are 3 year contracts in disguise to lessen the cap hit so let's see what happens. I think they need him. This team needs backbone as much as skill on the field and Reggie is repected.

And RBs can be big in the WCO. Ricky Watters, Dorsey Levins come to mind immediately.

Never mind my last comment, I thought he was younger, they are the same age (looked it up).

Continuity on the line is important going forward. It'll be good for Tannehill. To lop off our most important piece just so we can shell out big bucks for Bush would be insane. Bush only likely has anothter 2-3 years left. He's not some big bruising running back who can take the pounding, as his first few years showed. Even guys on here last year commented that he shouldn't be used to run between the tackles and should be used in space. Now he's our 'do everything RB'? Huh?

Understand, I'm not saying Reggie Bush isn't a very good player on this team, I'm just questioning the wisdom of giving him BIG money going forward. If you look at teams like the Pats and Packers, teams we SHOULD be emulating, this ISN'T a move they would make.

Ross is too cheap to keep Bush.

Craig I here ya and yes the wco doesn't rely on the run. But look what happened this year. They realized they didn't have the pieces to run the wco the way they see fit. They adjusted it and are now running the ball more. And keep in mind they have to make a decision on Bush BEFORE free agency and the draft. They will have no idea what kind of players they are going to get. It would be a very risky move to let Bush go to free agency imo. Then we're fighting the likes of Washington and others who over spend.

And stop worrying about what people in here have said.lol you don't even know who is saying it, could be the same nut repeating himself yet you are crediting "Most of the guys on here". Most of the guys on here are probably one guy acting like a bunch of different people. :)

We may disagree slightly on Bush but I agree completely on Long. Most people here wouldn't know an elite left tackle if he came in their face. As if being named a Pro Bowler every year in the league wasn't enough of a clue. He is a slow starter though for some reason. Seems to struggle in the early games..

Harmel, get out of here with that too cheap stuff. That doesn't fly and shows you have no clue. It's about cap space not money.

Mark that's why you save the most cap space by franchising Bush, and negotiating with Long.

Ross ia a cheap SOB. He's shown it many times, mike.

Mark..

I don't know if people don't "know a elite LT"....is the case....

I think more likely it's that WE DON'T CARE....

12 teams go to the playoffs EVERY YEAR....and for the LAST 3 YEARS...none of those team have had ALL WORLD JAKE LONG protecing their QBs backside....and they seem to be doing just fine....

Playoffs....PLAYOFFS....

and BTW...

i'm glad that we are talking about a SKILL postion player being our best player as oppsed to an OL man....

mike,

Again, we'll disagree. I don't believe Philbin and Ireland will go the route you are discussing. To me, the value a LT brings to the team is FAR greater than what Reggie Bush will bring to the team. Yeah I know it doesn't show up on the scoresheet but it's a lot easier to find a running back than it is to find a franchise LT. Yeah I know we disagree on the value that Long brings to the table but what REALLY matters is not what you and I think but what the two guys running the show think. I think they'll value EVERYTHING that Long is over Reggie and sign Long to the long term contract. If surprisingly they don't sign Long, he'll be snapped up by any number of teams to a big contract, including NE. Let's see how it all plays out.

By the way, respectfully, I don't buy into any of this BS about he's not a LT that can play in a WCO. I'm not sure where this idea came from, but Jake Long is about as atheletic a LT as you'd find anywhere and can play in any offence. It's the defence he's playing against and the question is can he keep their guys off the QB and open the holes necessary to run. In both cases, it's an unequivocable YES.

Harme, you are so ignorant, here's the facts, the Phins is in the bottom of the league in cap space. That means they paid too much for mediocre players. One thing that Ross isn't is cheap. He may not know how to run the team effectively, but cheap no. Shall I post team salaries Harme, I mean don't post dumb.

Jake Long is the third best LT in the league. Every tackle allows sacks. The Dolphins were playing a team with a very good (this is what I'm told and I'm not in agreement) defensive line and he gets no help because,,,,,he's Jake Long. We put him on an island, rbs,fbs, and te's help the right side of the line by chipping at lbs and defensive linemen who get through on passing plays. Jake receives no such help, all alone out there because he can mostly handle it. But a few are going to slip through. This is what people understand when placing their pro bowl votes. There are more factors involved in assessing a linemens play than how many sacks he gave up in a single game. The people saying Jake should be gone because of a sack apparently forgot that he helped pave the way to a 246 yard rushing day. He does block people on rushing downs too.

Please don't forget the man was injured and is probably still recovering. He was injured going into the Texans game and playing that day definitely didn't speed up the healing process.

Bottom line is he is a top 3 LT in the league. If we get rid of him are we getting someone even close to that? I for one highly doubt it.

Craig we can disagree with Longs skills, and whether his skills are suited for the WCO, but we're both saying to use the same signing strategy. You franchise Bush (smaller hit to the cap) and sign long.

Phins78,

Some very good points. Btw, I'm not advocating DON'T sign Bush, I just think the contract will get loonie and that's when we need to get out. He's one of my favourite players but this is a team with a top 5 salary and a bottom 5 standing in the league. To me this will add to it. Sign him before the end of the season if we can but I doubt it'll come together.

Mark, very good point about Ricky Waters. Michael Westbrook is another example of a WCO RB. REid has liked to use a version of it over the last few years. The RB has value in the offence it's just not based around him.

Harmel please stop with te Ross is too cheap posts, they are ignorant. Every team has a cap, you spend to or close to the cap. Miami spends to the cap every year. It has nothing to do with Ross' wallet.

Besides the fact that Ross has already shown he will pay anything to get people, it's just that they haven't come for other reasons. Ross has gone after highly touted coaches who would have commanded large salaries. He offered Fisher more than he took to go to the Rams.

Bash him for the orange carpet, the celebs, his goffiness. That's all fair. Saying the man is cheap just shows you don't know what you're talking about. Saying the man won't pay for Reggie Bush when he's not even involved in that aspect of the team REALLY shows you don't know what you're talking about.

With all due respect of course.

mike,

I'm not even sure this team could franchise Bush. As a 28 year old would he not be a UFA free to sign with any team. I thought you could only franchise RFAs? Anybody know?

Phins78, I hate this Ross is cheap BS when there are some really good posts going on, and a troll comes in that doesn't know better, and the only thing he can say is Ross is cheap.

Agreed fully Craig. If they are going to sign him in season would be the time to do it. Before the crazy spenders up his price by offering him the world.

And there is motivation not only from the team but from the agent and players side because signing in season guarantees him a contract BEFORE he could get injured. He gets injured and goes to free agency he has screwed himself. Better to get it signed now, take the probable pay loss from not going in the free agent market, and call it a day.

Phins78,

Someone should ask the other members of the OL how they like playing with Long as their LT. My guess is they LOVE playing with him. My guess is it makes all of their jobs easier. God knows we spent enough time shuffling this OL under Sparano and we saw what the results were. Now we're going to get cheap and try and replace the best player on our line cause maybe he's had a coupld of injuries and in some people's minds slipped a little. Yeah OK. Let's do that. Let's go back to musical chairs and see how that works out.

Craig M, no that's how it's used with UFA, you can tender a RFA, or make them transition player. But you franchise UFA.

Phins78,

Good point in the possibility of Bush getting injured.

Kris, I thought we determined that teams made the playoffs on the strength of their QB play? Would it be a problem if we had good QB play AND someone playing LT that gave him time to throw?

I told you guys last summer that Denver is in for some serious bad karma after how they treated playoff winner 316 yards Tim Tebow.

Be honest, if Tebow or our rookie QB or Henne or anyone else threw 3 INTs on 3 straight poseessions, you all would go ape shite and otherwise freak out.

But Manning, Vick, others get to do it.

Our guys are not doing half bad, folks.

Even game 1--Houston is a monster team.

Tebow NEVER turns the ball over like Manning did last night. And then the announcers have the audacity to gush that Denver's never had a QB like Manning just because he got a couple of TDs in the 4th quarter.

Well that same Manning had his team with only 7 points and 3 INTs entering the 4th quarter.

I'm pretty sure Tebow could have his team down 28-7 entering the 4th quarter and throw 3 picks just fine.

LMFAO.

Broncos stink.

I don't get it either mike. I always think Coalition is being paranoid when he says Armando has people posting to get a rise out of people so they argue and the site gets more hits.

But then I read a post like that and start believing the guy is on to something.

After all, I just wrote two posts about it and you wrote one. That's three more hits! And they are regarding a nonsensical point. lol

mike,

I'm not sure about your last point. Anybody else care to chime in on that. My understand was you couldn't franchise a UFA. YOu had a choice with RFA's to franchise or transition.

This just in, I love rain days, that is all.

Phins78, one more lol.

Phins78,

I heard you were at the Yankees game the other day. How are they looking? Is the pitching good enough to get them far? Please say no....LOL.

That's why Brees was franchised (before signing a contract), that's why, Maurice Jones-Drew was franchised. The tag gives teams an opportunity to continue to negotiate with player past a predetermined date, and it helps teams retain their best players.

Craig Richie Incognito loves playing with Long and has said so on many occasions. If anyone told him that Jake sucks, is over paid, or should be traded I would love to see his reaction.

Armando is there any way you could ask Richie that question? Would be hilarious. "Richie, there are some fans who say Long is no good and should be traded, what's your opinion on that"?

I would love to hear his answer!

Here what happened with Brees;

With his successful challenge to the franchise rules, no player can be franchised more than three times during his career, no matter if he moves to another team. Brees was franchised once with the San Diego Chargers and this year by the Saints, who felt they also had the ability to franchise him next year at 120 percent of his 2012 salary and possibly a third time in 2014.

Unless the Saints get a long-term deal with Brees by July 16, they face the possibility of either letting him hit free agency next year or giving him a $23.6 million franchise tag in 2013. Because the Saints have four other starters who become free agents next year and are already a little more than $3 million over the projected 2013 salary cap, the Saints will either have to restructure a lot of contracts to fit in Brees' franchise tag or release a bunch of starters.

KEEP BUSH. JETTISON JAKE LONG THE BUST.

"Tebow NEVER turns the ball over like Manning did last night."

How could he, he can't even hit his own receivers. That's how bad of a QB he is. Not only doesn't he hit his receivers unless there is no one within ten yards but he also throws the ball so far away from them the dbs can't even make a break on the ball.

Great athlete, great heart, great teammate, bad QB. imo

Here's the rule.

Section 1. Franchise Player Designations:

Except as set forth in Section 9 below, each Club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement. The player so designated may be one who would otherwise be a Restricted Free Agent. Except as set forth in Section 2(a)(i) below, any Club that designates a Franchise Player shall be the only Club with which such Franchise Player may negotiate or sign a Player Contract during the period the player is so designated, notwithstanding the number of his Accrued Seasons. The period for Clubs to designate Franchise Players will begin on the twenty-second day preceding the first day of the new League Year and will end at 4:00pm New York time on the eighth day preceding the first day of the new League Year.

Nothing better than a big game against the Jets, check out Jimmy's thoughts about the importance of this game.
http://phinsnews.com/pivotal-game-against-the-hated-jets/

mike,

I stand corrected. Thanks for checking that out. You're dead right that Brees fell under that situation. So all that being said, I wouldn't be opposed to franchising Bush. To me I'd pay him the average of the top 5, depending on what that is, for one year. All of that would be dependent on being able to sign Long long term. If they weren't able to get that done, then Long would take priority for me.

Craig their pitching is actually looking great and Pettite is coming back today so that will boost them even more. Sabathia is slumping a bit but he was injured and is working back, should be good for the playoffs. Curoda pitched lights out that day, Hughes is a beast lately. So they will have 4 decent pitchers if they make the post season.

But fear not because they can not hit with runners in scoring position and too many times have to rely on the home run. That won't work in the playoffs going up against superior pitching. And the Orioles are on fire, they seem to be on a mission this year.

Phins, TEbow wins. He has that it factor. He does not turn the ball over. He can throw and don't forget he adds 650 yards rushing to his totals.

Facts are facts. He elevates his team and he wins.

Jets are making a mistake not riding him to the playoffs this year just like Denver did last year.

If a team would give him a few years like all other first round QBs get, he might even get his completion % up.

He avoids sacks and makes plays. He beat (admittedly hobbled) Roethislberger.

Denver is in for a long season, trust me. Bad move on their part.

Plus this is entertainment. Fans want to see Tebow play. It's exciting.

I'm pissed off about constant bashing of TEbow.

An incomplete pass is better than an INT.

Heck Tebow has a very good TD to INT ratio. He gets bashed so much he's extra careful.

Then both Mannings, Vick, Brady, everyone else has bad games, throw picks, etc and they get a pass.

If Tebow or Tannehill has a game like that, they are ROASTED.

Let's just see how Denver ends up this year. I predict the same 8-8 as last year, except last year's 8-8 was 8-2 by Tebow plus a playoff win.

Denver lost its mojo after what it did to TEbow.

Gotta go guys, talk to you later, peace.

Ryan handily outplayed Manning last night. Falcons looking great.

The Long vs. Ryan draft debate is officially closed.

That is all. Long was a bad pick.

I'm glad we now of Tannehill, but we could have had Ryan 5 years ago plus all the other picks that have been wasted on QBs since.

We could be like 14-2 Atlanta right now. THe difference was that they got Matt Ryan.

So you must be a Yankees fan, Phins78? You in the New York area? How do you like new Yankee Stadium versus old?

Craig M...

It would be better....but not necessary.....just better....

sign + trade...

is dwayne bowe an f/a?

yes.

2 watt, No such thing in the NFL.

Bowe is a fa, he was franchised this year.

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