As Bush contract talks turn

Jason Cole

Reggie Bush highlight reel

The New Orleans Saints and running back Reggie Bush may not have much more to debate from the standpoint of guaranteed money at this point.

What could be a problem in their contract talks is the ultimate value of the deal and how Bush reaches that ultimate value.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations said earlier this week that it would take a "dramatic" change to get Bush signed soon. The No. 2 overall selection of the 2006 draft missed New Orleans' first day of training camp on Friday after talk of a protracted holdout and a possible season-long holdout surfaced last week.

However, the dramatic change might have come on Thursday.

Bush's chances of receiving in excess of $26 million in guaranteed money from the Saints were greatly enhanced by the signing of quarterback Vince Young with Tennessee on Thursday. Young, the No. 3 pick, received a six-year contract which includes $25.74 million in guaranteed money and a maximum value of $58 million.

No. 1 overall choice Mario Williams of Houston received a six-year deal including $26.5 million in guarantees and a maximum value of $62 million.

As for Bush, the Saints have $2.7 million in remaining rookie pool money after signing all their other draft picks, a task the team completed on Thursday. Based on that pool number, a league source said Friday that the maximum amount of guaranteed money Bush can receive in a six-year deal is $26.3 million, just a shade under Williams.

The Saints are essentially locked into guaranteeing more because of the slotting that normally goes with the signing of draft picks from the top down. The team had hoped to pay much less in guaranteed money, but that possibility disappeared with the Young deal.

The Saints had also hoped to get Bush to sign a five-year deal, but that also appears unlikely.

From at least one perspective, the Young deal is staggering. It represents an increase of nearly 30 percent over the $19.8 million guaranteed to wide receiver Braylon Edwards, the No. 3 overall pick by Cleveland a year ago. It's also approximately 25 percent more than what No. 2 overall pick Ronnie Brown got from Miami last year.

The next part of the Bush negotiations will be the remaining incentives and bonuses the Heisman Trophy winner can earn in the deal and how he gets them. For instance, bonuses are often tied to playing time. One source said that the Saints had hoped to tie a higher-than-usual percentage of playing time to the Bush deal and that agent Joel Segal was unwilling to accept that.

Getting progressively more money in the contract can be tied to higher playing time percentages, team achievements and player achievements, among a myriad of measurable factors.