Need is there. After LeGarrette Blount signed with the Steelers last Friday, the Patriots have a need at the position with just Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and Jonas Gray on the depth chart. Furthermore, Ridley, Vereen and Bolden enter the final year of their contracts. It’s just a matter of whether the team decides to fill the void in free agency or the draft.
Why Bush is available. The Bears cut him on March 10, with economics a significant factor. Bush was scheduled to earn $2.8 million in 2014 and count $3.85 million on the salary cap. Bears coach Marc Trestman explained that it became tough for the Bears to find playing time for Bush last season, mainly because Matt Forte showed he could handle bell-cow responsibilities.
Undervalued asset? Just two years ago, Bush did well in free agency by signing a four-year, $14 million contract with the Bears that included $7 million in bonuses and guarantees. He figures to be closer to the veteran minimum this time around, which makes his situation somewhat similar to Blount’s last offseason. That projected price tag figures to be closer to the Patriots’ liking.
Fits the big back mold. At 6-foot-1 and 245 pounds, Bush is a bigger back, similar to Blount (6-foot, 250). Former Raiders coach Hue Jackson once said, “He’s a very physical football player. I think there are a lot of safeties across our division and league who don’t like running into him. He knows how to run the ball, whether it’s outside or inside.” As his 37 receptions in 2011 attest, Bush has some pass-catching ability as well.
No decisive history vs. Patriots. The 29-year-old Bush has played one game against the Patriots, in 2008 with the Raiders, and was used only as a kickoff returner. It was the lone kickoff return of his NFL career.
Connection with Lombardi. The Raiders selected Bush at the top of the fourth round in the 2007 draft (100th overall). Bush’s situation was similar to running back Marcus Lattimore’s in 2013, as he had a broken leg coming out of Louisville and any team selecting him was projecting a year ahead. Michael Lombardi, who currently serves as an assistant to the Patriots' coaching staff, was in his final months working with the Raiders at that time.