Reggie Bush, one of the most highly sought-after NFL free agents, signed with the Detroit Lions Wednesday, a four-year deal that makes the team’s offense with quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson that much more potent.
The running back, who played the last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins with game-breaking speed and agility, compared going to Detroit to his first year in the league.
“It feels like I got drafted all over again,” said Bush, who reportedly was going to visit the Arizona Cardinals.
According to NFL Players Association records, Bush’s deal has a base value of $16.25 million and he received a $4 million signing bonus.
The former No. 2 overall pick spent the last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins trying to prove he can be a featured back, and now he’ll get the chance to take the bulk of the load with the Lions as well.
Arizona was interested, but Bush clearly had his sights set on the Lions, who have more offensive firepower. Johnson has another player to draw defensive attention and Stafford has another weapon.
“To have guys of that caliber, Calvin Johnson and Barry Sanders, I believe, mentioned me on Twitter, it means a lot to have support like this,” Bush said. “This is the first time I’d been a free agent. This is uncharted waters for me. I was very nervous. I got about two, three hours of sleep, just thinking about all the possibilities. We had such as great meeting, it almost seemed too perfect.
“It’s a running back’s dream, watching film, seeing those safeties deep and those safeties rolling over to double-cover Calvin,” he said.
Said Lions offensive guard Rob Sims to ESPN: “Definitely where we are, he definitely would be the missing piece. With our aerial attack and he can catch the ball the way we can out of the backfield and some of the other running game stuff we got in place, I think it’s tailor-made for him.”
Bush has 950 rush yards and 30 or more catches in two straight seasons. The last Lions back to do so was Barry Sanders in 1997 and 1998.
Bush, 28, caught 88 passes in his rookie season of 2006 and has averaged 47 receptions per year since then. Of course, the numbers that truly have made the former No. 2 overall pick more attractive to the Lions than he was during his time with the New Orleans Saints are his rushing stats over the past two years: 2,072 yards and 12 touchdowns with an average of 4.6 yards per attempt.
Bush missed only one game in his two seasons in Miami after playing all 16 games, and only once during his five seasons with the Saints.