The Detroit Lions released running back Reggie Bush on Feb. 25.
The Detroit Lions have released running back Reggie Bush.
Senior writer Tim Twentyman of the Lions' official website broke the news on Feb. 25. Bush still has two years left on the four-year, $16 million contract he signed in 2013. He had a cap hit of $5.27 million with $3.55 million in dead money for 2015 and a base salary of $4 million in 2016.
Twentyman stresses Bush's release frees up $1.7 million in salary-cap space for Detroit.
With this, The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett says this could be the Lions' way of trying to re-sign All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The team has roughly $126 million in top-51 salary commitments as of Feb. 25. Birkett stresses the Lions have around $17 million in cap space for Suh, rookies and free-agent signings in 2015.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew spoke about Bush and the emergence of second-year running back Theo Riddick, per Twentyman:
"You've got to look at the contribution versus how much you're paying the player. It's what they give you versus what you pay them. That's a process we spent a lot of time on. He's just one of the players we look at.
"When you have a guy like Theo Riddick, who can make a difference in the passing game, that brings value to your team."
With Bush gone, the Lions have Riddick, Joique Bell and George Winn as part of their running back corps. Twentyman says Detroit could look into selecting a running back in this year's NFL draft.
Bush became the first Lions player to gain 1,000 yards on the ground since 2004. He recorded 1,006 rushing yards and four touchdowns for Detroit during the 2013 NFL season, per ESPN stats. According to the Lions' official website, Bush, Glover Quin and Jason Jones were the team's free-agent targets that year.
Detroit will look at improving its running game one way or another. According to Birkett, the Lions placed just 28th in the NFL with an average of 88.9 rushing yards per game last season.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell addressed this issue last month, per Birkett:
"For the most part I just think we have to be a little better just in terms of getting our running game off to a start better earlier in the year. But I think we've got to do some of the things we did before. I think if we don't turn the ball over, give ourselves the opportunity, I think it's going to be fine. We've got a great nucleus of guys coming back. But I think you're going to see improvement in all of those areas."
The 29-year-old Bush battled ankle injuries in 2014 which limited him to just 550 all-purpose yards in 2014, per Twentyman.
Bush's release comes just several weeks after a former St. Bernard Parish sheriff's deputy named Brandon Licciardi, an alleged accomplice of former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper in drugging women and then raping them, came forward and implicated the now-former Detroit Lions running back.
The New Orleans Advocate's John Simerman and Jose Antonio Vargas reported on Feb. 10 that Licciardi claims he saw Bush drop the drug Ecstasy into champagne glasses at a Las Vegas night club in the spring of 2011, just before the Saints traded Bush to the Miami Dolphins. Licciardi also insists Bush distributed Ecstasy to women on that club's dance floor.
"Molly" is an active ingredient of Ecstasy. Licciardi described to a district attorney investigator how Bush allegedly drugged the women with it, per The New Orleans Advocate:
"OK, um, I was in Vegas about three years ago and um, Reggie Bush put Molly in Champagne. He was handing out Molly on the dance floor to girls. Handing it out. Like giving it to them.
"'Cause I saw it with my own eyes."
Bush's agent didn't immediately return requests for comment, per Simerman and Vargas.
However, Bush's lawyer Shawn Holley vehemently denied his client ever did what Licciardi claims, per a separate New Orleans Advocate update:
"Mr. Bush recalls meeting Brandon Licciardi once, briefly, in New Orleans. But he categorically denies using or distributing -- or saying any words to the effect that he had ever used or distributed Ecstasy, MDMA (or "Molly), or any other drug in the fashion described."
Bush has amassed 5,465 rushing yards, and 35 touchdowns on 1,266 carries in 116 career regular-season games for the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions, per ESPN stats.
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