Bush shopping for long-term offer
Bush, a restricted free agent, is free to shop himself around the National Football League and apparently teams have taken note of his play on special teams. The 6-foot, 200-pound Bush was in Tennessee on Monday meeting with Titans coaches and officials, seeing if there might be a long-term contract in his future.
According to Bush’s agent, Derrick Fox, he was engaged in talks with the Titans on Monday, but no deal had been reached. Bush’s next stop on his free-agent tour is scheduled for Baltimore on Wednesday, Fox said.
It’s too early to tell whether the visits will result in one of the teams submitting an offer sheet, but the price is right if they do. Because the Packers issued the lowest possible tender offer to Bush—$1.01 million for right of first refusal—they are eligible to receive compensation only commensurate to the round in which Bush was originally drafted.
Because Bush came into the league as a rookie free agent, there is no compensation tied to his signing. The Packers have only the right to match any offer. The Packers could have set the compensation at a second-round pick if they offered the next highest tender level of $1.575 million.
That Bush is drawing interest from two physical teams like the Titans and Ravens speaks to his strong reputation as a special teams player. Bush finished second on the team in special teams tackles with 17 last season. He had six special teams penalties, the most on the team, but he was involved in a lot of action because he was a gunner on the punt team and a member of the kick-coverage team.
He played sparingly on defense, starting out as a backup cornerback and then adding safety to his duties.
On Monday, the Packers formally announced the signing of former Pittsburgh safety Anthony Smith, who has the athletic ability to fill the void on special teams if Bush leaves. But Smith did not play well on special teams with the Steelers last season and they chose not to submit a restricted free-agent tender offer to him, allowing him to go free.
Another Packers restricted free agent, fullback John Kuhn, visited Cincinnati on Monday. He previously visited Arizona but had not received an offer. He also was given a right of first refusal tender and could be had without compensation, although the Packers have the right to match.
The Packers have not shown a lot of interest in pursuing Dallas linebacker Kevin Burnett and appear willing to jump in only if things break down in his talks with Oakland, San Diego and Houston.
Burnett visited the latter three teams but the Packers haven’t brought him in. He’s built similarly to their own linebacker, Brandon Chillar, and their willingness to add him to their roster seems dependent on paying a modest sum.
Burnett’s agent, Ricky Lefft, said over the weekend that he was still engaged in talks with several teams. He told the Dallas Morning News that he hoped to have a deal completed by Tuesday.
A source with access to the contract signed by Smith said it was for two years and contained a bonus of $100,000.
Mike Adams, another safety considered by the Packers, went back to Cleveland last week for a three-year, $4.1 million deal. His contract contained a $1.25 million signing bonus and $250,000 in guaranteed base salary.
Meanwhile, several Packers had qualified for significant increases in their 2009 base salaries after fulfilling escalators in their contracts.
Safety Nick Collins hit an escalator worth $2.5 million. Thus, his base salary for 2009 is $3.045 million and his new cap number is $3.428 million.
Cornerback Charles Woodson hit an escalator worth $1.5 million. So his ’09 base salary climbed to $5.5 million and his cap number to $7.407 million.
Center-guard Jason Spitz hit an escalator worth $1.07 million. His ‘09 base salary now is $1.6 million and his cap number is $1.786 million.
Tackle Tony Moll’s base salary increased to $1.01 million and his cap number to $1.046 million. Moll hit an escalator that raised his base to the lowest restricted free-agent tender this year.
Collins, Spitz and Moll all have contracts that expire after the ‘09 season.