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Bush open to restructuring Saints contract after lockout lifted

Reggie Bush remains on point: His preference is not to find a new NFL home in 2011.

"I want to be back with the Saints. I think our No. 1 priority is to stay with the Saints, restructure a deal where both sides are happy," Bush told *The Times-Picayune* on Friday. "It's just about getting this lockout out of the way so we can do that.

"So right now, everybody is kind of stuck in limbo right now. I can't talk to the team. I can't talk to the coaches. So it's weird. A whole offseason without football is kind of weird."

Bush is due $11.8 million in the final year of his current contract with New Orleans. It's a huge payday for a player who has struggled with injuries and consistency during his five-year NFL career.

The Saints signed running back Pierre Thomas to a four-year extension in March, then turned heads one month later when they traded back into the first round of the draft to select Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Bush tweeted about the end of his Saints career after learning of the Ingram pick, though he quickly backed off the statement.

Bush likely will have to take a paycut to remain in New Orleans, but he said he couldn't discuss what would be an acceptable figure until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.

"We don't know obviously what the new CBA agreement is going to hold," Bush said. "We don't know the rules or how the money is going to be weighed and scaled. We are kind of waiting on that. But no, we don't have a number yet. That'll all be resolved once the lockout ends."

Bush also refuted reports that the Saints gave him permission to talk to other teams during the offseason.

"That's not true," Bush said. "If it's anything, it's the opposite. (The Saints) don't want me talking to other teams. Before the lockout began, they expressed that they want me back, and once the lockout ended, we were going to do everything to make sure I was still with the Saints."

Bush made it clear that he wasn't sending any messages by skipping players-only workouts run by Drew Brees at Tulane University.

"I talked to Drew, and Drew understood," Bush told The Times-Picayune. "Because of the position I am in right now, I want to be protected rather than possibly risk injury when we are in the middle of a lockout. Drew understood."

The second overall pick in the 2006 draft, Bush has shown flashes of greatness in New Orleans but has never become the elite back many predicted during his star-making run at USC. A leg injury limited Bush to just eight games and a career-worst rushing total of 150 yards in 2010.

Despite that, there wouldn't be any shortage of willing suitors to bring Bush aboard if he were to part ways with the Saints. According to NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora, the Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eaglescould be interested in the 28-year-old if he becomes available.

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