The Eagles will look to add some safety talent this season through both free agency and the draft. With three long-time Eagles safeties set to hit free agency and Pat Chung probably on his way out, Philadelphia may need to add several players at the position. The Eagles biggest priority for free agency may be bolstering the safety unit.
New Orleans Saints safety Rafael Bush is a creative option for the Eagles to pursue in free agency. Bush actually isn't an unrestricted free agent at all; he's a restricted free agent. The Saints recently offered an original pick tender to Bush, which is the lowest tender level possible. What this means is that any team can offer a new contract to Bush, but the Saints will have the chance to match it. If the Saints don't match it, they won't be owed a draft pick in return if Bush leaves. Bush also has the option to just sign his $1.4 million tender and return to New Orleans if he doesn't want to test free agency.
It's kind of a risky move for the Saints to tender him so low. The problem is that the Saints lack the ample salary cap flexibility to operate freely; they currently have the second least cap space in the NFL.
Bush went undrafted out of South Carolina State in the 2010 NFL Draft. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons and spent most of his career there on the team's practice squad. The Denver Broncos then signed him off the Falcons' practice squad in 2011. He was active for 6 games in Denver but played very sparingly. Bush entered free agency in 2012 and was signed by the Saints.
In two years in New Orleans, Bush has played in 29 games and started six. He's recorded 1 interception, 6 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, and 42 tackles in that time. In somewhat of a small sample size, Bush had the best tackling efficiency rate of any safety in the league last year. He made 30 tackles, had 9 assisted, and only missed one.
Appeal to the Eagles
Bush is still young; he will turn 27 in May. He stands at 5-11, 200 pounds. He appeals to the Eagles as both a good depth option and potentially a guy who could compete for a starting role given the chance. Bush also contributes on special teams.
Appeal to Bush
The Eagles can potentially offer Bush more money than the Saints can afford to match, depending on what New Orleans does to clear up cap space. The combination of more money and a better opportunity for playing time could interest Bush.
If the Eagles like Bush, they can try to offer a deal that the Saints can't afford to match.
If the Saints don't match an offer sheet for Bush, he can gladly take more money in Philadelphia.