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Thomas & Bush Future With Saints Uncertain

Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush have several things in common. Both are playmakers. Both won Super Bowl Rings as the top two running backs in 2009 on the Saints depth chart. And both have uncertain futures in New Orleans. Thomas is set to become a free agent, while Bush is due $11.7 million in 2011, a figure too high for his production value. Thomas and Bush acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding their Saints future with the media. Mike Triplett of the Times Picayune covers the Thomas angle, while James Varney of the Times Picayune looks at Bush’s situation.

In the beginning, if I would’ve stayed off my feet right after the injury, earlier in the season, I think I would’ve been back (to full strength),” Thomas said. “I would’ve played in the playoffs.”The season was also marred by reports that Thomas was in Coach Sean Payton’s “doghouse” because of the slow pace of his recovery and that his name came up during in-season trade talks with the New England Patriots.

But Thomas said none of that will affect his chances of returning to the Saints.

“I don’t think that will be a factor at all,” said Thomas, whose free agent status will depend on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL’s owners and players this offseason. “Everybody comes to a disagreement at times, but you know, you get along after that. You don’t have a problem. Everybody’s not gonna agree with everybody, so you move on from that point. I moved on. I believe they moved on. And they told me, ‘We love everything you’ve done for us. We want you back.’

“So I’ve heard good things from them. I’ve talked to them. And we left on good terms. So everything is good between me and the Saints, and hopefully everything works out.”

Thomas, who re-injured the ankle two weeks ago during practice, said he is planning to meet with renowned foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina in the coming days. He had an appointment scheduled for Wednesday, but his flight was canceled due to weather.

Thomas said he’s been told that surgery is likely. But he’s hoping that Dr. Anderson might just prescribe rest. Either way, Thomas said he’s just eager to have a final verdict on what’s wrong and how it can get better.

Dating back to September, no doctors seemed to agree on Thomas’ diagnosis. There was no clear fracture or ligament damage from X-rays and an MRI exam, so Thomas got back out the next week and started running around on the ankle. But that set him back even further. Eventually, after several weeks of rehab, a fourth doctor finally prescribed a long period of “aggressive rest” in a boot and on crutches, which seemed to do the trick.

Read more from Triplett here: http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2011/01/new_orleans_saints_tailback_pi_12.html

Pierre wouldn’t blame the Saints medical staff for all the misdiagnosis on his ankle, but the reality is, it was a doctor outside the Saints organization that prescribed the proper rehabilitation.

Reggie Bush has battled through injuries as well. His offseason situation presents a challenge to the Saints front office.

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, scheduled to make more than $11 million in 2011 under the final year of his contract, said he hopes to remain a Saint but understands there is considerable uncertainty around his future.

Not all of that is strictly individual, of course, because the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players’ union is set to expire March 4 and both sides appear poised for hardball negotiations that could delay the start of next season or lead to a lockout by the owners. But that all means Bush’s personal situation is very cloudy.

“I want to be here,” Bush said Tuesday. “Stranger things have happened, but I want to be here and the organization knows I want to be here. I love the city and the fans here. And I want to end my career here.”

He did not know what financial terms might make that possible.

Read more from Varney here: http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2011/01/new_orleans_saints_rb_reggie_b_8.html

Reggie doesn’t know what financial terms would make it possible, but I promise you $11.7 million in 2011 is impossible. We can debate Reggie’s value to the Saints until we’re blue in the face, but in my opinion, $11.7 million for one year is too much money for an injury plagued player. Ideally, I think the Saints would prefer to restructure a deal that would pay Reggie more of a market value.

Without question, the 2011 off season will be interesting. From the uncertainty of a lockout, to the 27 free agents on the Saints, to Drew Brees’ wish for a long-term contract extension, Mickey Loomis and the Saints front office have a lot of work in front of them.

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