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2011 NFL Free Agents: Colts Should Target Reggie Bush, RB, Saints

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Between now and the start of free agency, Stampede Blue will profile free agents the Indianapolis Colts could and should target when the new collective bargaining agreement is signed and the lockout lifted. 

Free Agent Target: Reggie Bush, RB, New Orleans Saints

A few days ago, ESPN's Paul Kuharsky and Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson had a little chat over whether or not the Indianapolis Colts should keep soon-to-be-free-agent Joseph Addai. Williamson was under the strong impression that Indy could let Addai go and turn the fulltime running back reigns over to... Delone Carter?

It might not happen right away, especially with the lockout situation, but I honestly would not be shocked if Carter became the No. 1 option at running back.

Kuharsrky added this little interesting nugget at the end of the discussion:

The Colts have talked of dipping into free agency a bit. If Reggie Bush is available and affordable, I believe they’d consider him and look to pair him, rather than Addai, with Carter.

And thus, because Paul Kuharsky is saying that the Colts could be interested in Reggie Bush, we focus today's free agent spotlight article on the former-USC running back who cheated his way to winning the Heisman Trophy in 2005. Now that he's been exposed as a cheater, Heisman Trophy Trust is demanding Bush return the trophy. Bush, who had promised to give back the trophy in September 2010, is now going back on that promise and keeping the damn thing.

Classy guy. Midwest fans will surely love him.

Now, before we get into this, let me say that if I were to choose between having Addai or Bush on my team, I take Addai. Unlike Bush, Addai can actually take a football and run with it between the tackles! Reggie Bush, who was the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, is the first Top Five runningback I've ever seen who has trouble running the ball.

Sure, he's a great utility player. He's an excellent punt and kick returner. But, as a runningback, he kind of sucks. He was also paid way to much money in New Orleans, which is why they are parting ways with him.

The most yards Bush has ever rushed for in one season was 581 in 2007. Despite not being a fulltime runningback, he's only played in one full season (his rookie year) and the most games he's started in was 10 (again, back in '07). His 4.0 career rushing average is similar to Addai's (4.1). However, when you consider the kind of offensive line Addai has had to work with since his rookie year (when he averaged 4.8 a carry), that career average is rather impressive.

Addai is also a more accomplished blocker, a critical skill for a RB in the Colts offense.

But, because Kuharsky has floated Bush's name out there, that leads me to believe that there is, at least, a passing flirtation between the Colts and Reggie Bush. And, to be fair, just because Bush is a sketchy character who was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over-hyped coming out of USC, he does have skills that could help the Colts win.

Chief among Bush's skills are his receiving abilities and his value on special teams. Bush averages nearly 60 catches a season, which are numbers that exceed Pierre Garcon's average catch haul. When Bush gets the ball in space, he is absolutely deadly. His catch percentage, according to Football Outsiders, was an impressive 81% in 2010. He only played in 8 games last year though. In 2009, the year he played 14 games and was instrumental in the Saints getting to the Super Bowl, he had a catch rate of 69%, which is still pretty good for a RB.

On special teams, Bush still possesses the speed to be a 'home run threat' as a punt returner. While the reliable Blair White averaged more yards per return (8.0) than Bush last year (6.6), Bush still has the raw ability to take a punt and convert it into six points for his team. Blair White doesn't have that. Whether or not Bush's skills as a returner would work with the Colts awful policy to use only rookies and non-starters as special teams players is an unanswered question. For me, it seems kind of pointless to spend money on a kick returner if you're not going to give him reliable blockers.

Since Bush is a runningback in name only, he is unlikely to demand the same kind of salary he got in New Orleans. If he does ask for that kind of money, or more, well, then the issue of whether or not to sign Bush is resolved. There is no way Chris Polian should ink Reggie Bush to a contract and salary similar to or greater than what he got in New Orleans, and if Chris Polian does do something like that, then Chris Polian is an idiot.

I don't think Chris Polian is an idiot, and I don't think any of you feel he is either. Thus, I'm not worried about overpaying for Mr. Runngingback In Name Only.

For me, there are more negatives to signing Bush than positives. Yes, he does have 'game-breaking' ability as a utility player and a punt returner. But, last I checked, the Colts don't need that kind of player. They need DTs and a starting-caliber safety. And I don't think the RBs were the problem with the running game in recent years, with the exception of Donald Brown (who stinks, in case you didn't know my feelings on the UConn grad).

Also, I just don't see Indianapolis fans embracing a guy who cheated to win a Heisman Trophy, got caught, promised to return the trophy, and then reneged on that promise. The dude will get booed every time he runs on the field... by the home crowd!

But, according to Kuharsky, Reggie Bush is an option. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around why.