Saints exit clause payment reduced by $20M; Was Bush-to-NO an NFL conspiracy?
However, the most important news by far in this (buried in the sixth paragraph of this story in today's Times-Picayune) is that the team's exit penalty clause in the Saints-Louisiana agreement is amended, favorably to Tom Benson:
If the Saints decide to leave New Orleans before 2010, the team must pay the state $61 million instead of the previously-installed $81 million.
The next opportunity for the team to exercise that clause comes after the upcoming season.
Which means, in spite of everything Saints fans might do to shower the team with support (including buying season tickets in droves), Tommy Boy still might cut and run - at a cheaper price than before.
WAS BUSH-TO-NO AN NFL CONSPIRACY?
There has been a lot said since the April NFL draft about how in the world Reggie Bush fell into the Saints' laps. One line of thinking argues that the Texans simply liked Mario Williams better, and that with Gary Kubiak at the helm, they don't need a star RB to succeed on offense. The other side contends that the NFL had its hands in the Texans' top pick, so that Bush would be taken by New Orleans.
It's an interesting conspiracy theory. The potential for NFL involvement is two-fold. There are two situations that emerge if Bush goes to the Saints as opposed to the Texans:
(1) Bush brings massive fan and business support to New Orleans, thus ensuring that the team remains there. Bush further helps lead the team to victories, ensuring same.
(2) Bush comes to a team that still doesn't get sufficient fan and business support by Benson's standards. The NFL wants a team in LA, and Bush is already a star in LA, making the Saints an easy candidate for relocation (and an instant hot ticket in LA when they get there). Plus, the price tag for a prospective buyer goes up with Bush included in the package.
Couple that with the reduction in exit penalty charges ($81M to $61M), and the league sure seems to be hedging its bets.
None of this would have been possible if the Texans had taken Bush. The Saints would have selected AJ Hawk instead, and it would have killed both (1) the potential increase in fan support to keep the team in NO, and (2) the potential relocation value to LA.
So was there a conspiracy? I don't know...but it sure is funny how clean all this fits together - especially considering Domanick Davis is still nursing a bad knee that hasn't healed right after surgery. He didn't participate in minicamps and is a questionmark for training camp, leaving the Texans thin at RB. Their other options are Antowain Smith (age), Vernand Morency (coach's doghouse plus injury) and Wali Lundy (rookie).
But the Texans were already well-stocked on the defensive line, and had just signed FA Anthony Weaver (Baltimore) to play DE. Plus, their first round pick in '05 was a DE (Travis Johnson). Now, with Mario Williams also in the mix, the team is overstocked on the defensive line...and understocked at RB.
Plus, if Casserly really wanted to get into the NFL front office, is it conceivable that he encouraged the Texans to take Mario over Reggie for NFL purposes?
There's a lot of smoke...
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