Wyche: Bush brings sizzle to Miami
Bush was due about $11.8 million this season, the final year of his contract with the Saints, who face salary-cap constraints.
"It would have been hard for us to keep him at that number," Payton said.
Trade talks with Miami began late Wednesday. Bush's agent, Joel Segal, worked with Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland until after 2 a.m. Thursday on the terms of a new contract.
Later in the morning, Bush agreed to the deal and was en route to Miami. The Dolphins begin practicing Friday, but because Bush signed a new contract, the NFL's post-lockout calendar requires he wait until Aug. 4 to join practice.
"Change is never easy but I look forward to building something special in Miami and can't wait to embark on this new journey!" Bush said while sending a series of tweets. "To the city of New Orleans you will always have a place in my heart. ... I love you guys you are my family & I will never forget our good times. ... I wish the New Orleans Saints the best of luck I will always be a fan! The team, coaches, and fans will be deeply missed!"
Miami sought a running back to pair with second-round draft choice Daniel Thomas. Last year's leading rushers, Williams and Ronnie Brown, are free agents.
While the injury-plagued Bush has been paid handsomely since signing his six-year rookie contract worth up to $62 million, his pro career has never reached the heights he and many fans expected when he was selected second overall in the 2006 draft.
"When he was selected, it was going to be very difficult for him ever to maybe live up to some people's expectations," Payton said. "I do know this, though -- around the league, he's a player that's dangerous and feared and well-respected."
Last season, Bush missed eight games and during the other eight games was used as a role player, with just 36 carries for 150 yards and 34 receptions for 208 yards. Knee and leg injuries forced Bush to miss playing time each of the past four seasons -- a total of 20 games.
But the speedy Bush gives the Dolphins big-play potential they've lacked. Last season, Miami ranked third-worst in the NFL in scoring, rushing touchdowns, yards per carry and rushes of 10 yards or more.
The Heisman Trust no longer recognizes Bush as the winner of its award. Bush relinquished his title to it in 2010 after an NCAA investigation concluded the former Southern California star and his family accepted improper benefits from would-be sports agents while he was still playing for USC.
The same probe led the Bowl Championship Series to vacate the Trojans' 2004 BCS national title.
"I don't know if there has been a guy more under the microscope than Reggie around this league for a lot of reasons for the last five years," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "At times, he has handled it very well, and I think at times it was pretty overwhelming for him. ... When I look at the five years with him, man, we had some great times."
Payton had consistently said there remained a place in his wide-open offense for Bush. But after a salary cap of around $120 million was included in Monday's labor agreement that ended the lockout, it became apparent New Orleans would have trouble paying Bush what he wanted while addressing other needs.
Before the lockout, the Saints re-signed running back Pierre Thomas to a four-year, $12 million extension. New Orleans also is high on Chris Ivory, who made the squad as an undrafted rookie last season. He filled in while both Bush and Thomas were hurt and wound up leading the team in rushing yards with 716 and rushing TDs with five. It all made for a crowded backfield.
In his five-year pro career, Bush has rushed 524 times for 2,090 yards -- an average of 4.0 yards per carry -- and 17 touchdowns. He also has 294 receptions for 2,142 yards and 12 TDs. He has scored four career TDs on punt returns.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press