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Despite speculation to the contrary, Saints plan to retain Bush

Running back Reggie Bush remains very much in the Saints' plans, despite an $8 million salary in 2010, and the team has made no attempts to ask him to restructure, according to league sources.

The Saints have had several conversations with agent Joel Segal, who also represents star New Orleans safety Darren Sharper, a potential free agent, and have not broached the subject of altering Bush's salary.

Experience: 4th season

Height: 6-0

Weight: 203

College: USC

Bush, who was a key contributor for New Orleans in the playoffs, remains in the Saints' budget following their post-Super Bowl organizational meetings. Many league executives believed the Saints might ask Bush to restructure his deal or ultimately release him in an uncapped year, getting out from a high first-round contract with largely a situational player to this point in his career. But that does not appear to be the case, with the start of free agency now essentially a week away.

New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Thursday that the club has tendered qualifying offers to 13 of 18 players slated to become restricted free agents next week. While there is still time to do so, star guard Jahri Evans was not among them.

Evans and the Saints would ideally strike a long-term deal, preferably before the March 4 deadline to tender players, but the sides are not close and no deal is imminent, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. At this point the most likely scenario has New Orleans placing a high tender (requiring a first and third-round pick as compensation) on the elite guard in the coming week.

Also not among those tendered was Bush's backfield mate, Mike Bell.

The players offered tenders were offensive tackles Jammal Brown, Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief; safeties Roman Harper, Chris Reis and Usama Young; defensive linemen Remi Ayodele and Anthony Hargrove; wide receivers Lance Moore and Courtney Roby; linebacker Marvin Mitchell; tight end David Thomas; and running back Pierre Thomas.

The Saints declined to disclose the terms of the offers.

Players may wait to see if they receive better offers from other teams before agreeing to contracts with the Saints. If another team offers more money, the Saints have the right to match it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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