After much speculation that had Reggie Bush connected to both the Cardinals and the Lions, Detroit beat writer Tim Twentyman tweeted Wednesday that the Lions and Bush had agreed to a 4-year contract worth $16 million dollars. Apparently the market wasn't as soft on Bush as initially thought.
The Lions will be Bush's third team in four years, having played with the Saints in 2010 and playing through his two-year deal while with the Dolphins the last two. That doesn't necessarily mean Bush is no longer the playmaker he once was. Far from it, I actually see Bush getting yet another chance at redemption. His first coming in 2011 when he reached his first 1000 yard rushing season. A feat he was never able to accomplish as a Saint.
If you look at Bush's numbers from last year, they weren't fantastic. But he was still only 40 yards short of another 1000 yard season and he still played a role in the passing game, catching 269 yards and two touchdowns. Much of Bush's downturn can be blamed on a few things. While Ryan Tannehill shown glimpses of what he can do for the future, he was still a rookie. In a class where rookie quarterbacks ruled the roost, Tannehill wasn't the worst of the bunch. But he also clearly wasn't up there with the Andrew Lucks and the Robert Griffins. Another thing going against Bush was the lack of playmakers on Miami's receiving corps. They literally had none. After trading Brandon Marshall to the Bears, the Dolphins failed to make improvements, which left Brian Hartline as the No. 1 option. A No. 2 or No. 3 elsewhere, Hartline had his moments. But he was not the answer for the void left by Marshall.
Many experts, myself included, had Steven Jackson as the top-rated free agent running back before the market opened. But once it was announced that Bush would be heading to Detroit, I think Bush will give Jackson a run for his money in terms of overall stats in 2013.
Yahoo Sports' Jason Cole reported on March 13 that the Lions are willing to give Bush an opportunity to be a three-down back, a role that dwindled in Miami once the Dolphins tried getting Daniel Thomas more involved. The Lions managed to get by with Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell with moderate success. But even at 28, Bush has more playmaking ability than both of those player combined. The chance to start and be a complete back is likely what sealed the deal between the Lions compared to another offer from the Cardinals, the only other team that seemed to show interest. Plus, Matthew Stafford is a hell of a lot better than anything the Cardinals are going to trot out come Week One.
Where does this leave Bush's fantasy value?
Much higher than I had originally thought. In January, I really didn't expect Bush to be anything more than a third-down back on passing downs. But if the Lions stick to their guns and give Bush every opportunity to be the guy in the backfield, his PPR value pushes him up as an RB2. I don't expect his rushing numbers to improve drastically. His body simply isn't built to run more than 250 times in one year without breaking down. Despite this, he could reach another 1000 yards for the second time in his career if he can duplicate his ypc average in Miami. He averaged 5 yards a carry in 2011 and 4.4 last year. Very respectable numbers for a player who wasn't expected to excel after his time in New Orleans. If Bush can stay healthy for a full 16-game season, a concern that should still be in the back of fantasy owners' minds, Calvin Johnson will finally have to share the spotlight. And I don't think he will mind at all.