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During the early 2000s, Reggie Bush seemed like the next marquee running back. After starring at USC, he burst onto the NFL scene with the New Orleans Saints; while he wasn’t quite a bust, he never quite turned into a dominant pro. That reality, however, doesn’t mean he was underpaid.

At the end of his playing career, Bush spent one campaign with the Buffalo Bills. The running back would then go on to post one of the worst seasons in NFL history, earning $1.5 million for virtually nothing.

Reggie Bush’s NFL career

During his three NCAA seasons at USC, Reggie Bush looked like the next big thing. He seemed equally comfortable carrying the ball and catching passes, piling up 4,470 all-purpose yards and 38 total touchdowns with the Trojans; he also took home the 2005 Heisman Trophy but has since forfeited the title after an NCAA investigation.

After three seasons in college, Bush entered the 2006 NFL draft, where he fell to the New Orleans Saints in the second-overall spot. The running back would spend the next five seasons in New Orleans; while he produced moments of magic and helped the Saints win a Super Bowl title, he also struggled to stay healthy and failed to develop into a star.

During the 2011 offseason, New Orleans traded Bush to the Miami Dolphins. In South Florida, the running back was able to get back on track, staying healthy and rushing for 1,086 and 986 yards during his two seasons with the club. That was enough to earn him a nice contract with the Detroit Lions, but things would eventually take a turn for the worst.

After posting another solid season in 2013, Bush started to decline. He would play another campaign in Detroit, but lost the lion’s share of his touches to Joique Bell; he then joined the San Francisco 49ers but only appeared in five games before tearing his meniscus.

The following summer, Bush signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills, hoping to salvage his career. Instead, he posted one of the worst years in NFL history.

Earning $1.5 million for a historically bad season

When Reggie Bush signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in August 2016, it hardly looked like a recipe for success. While the running back was coming off an injury and slotting into the third spot in the depth chart, things worked out even worse than anyone could have imagined.

That season, Bush appeared in 13 games. He only caught seven passes for 90 yards, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The running back also carried the ball 12 times; while he did score one touchdown, he also finished with a total of -3 yards for the entire season. According to CBS Sports, that was the worst statistical rushing campaign by any non-quarterback player since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

“It’s tough,” Bush said at the time, according to the Buffalo News. “I just didn’t have a lot of opportunities this year. And so I’m not worried about that, finishing with negative yards or anything like that. If I had more opportunities, it would be a different story. But I didn’t have that.”

Reggie Bush still had a solid and well-paid NFL career

While it’s easy to write off Reggie Bush as a case of missed potential, that would be doing the running back a disservice. While he never became a dominant star, he still had a solid, not to mention well-paid, NFL career.

During Bush’s 11 seasons in the pros, he piled up 9,088 yards from scrimmage and 54 total offensive touchdowns. While those aren’t eye-popping numbers on their own, they’re still safely outside of bust territory; it’s also impossible to ignore Bush’s bad luck with injuries during his time in the pros.

Although his career never hit the highest heights, the running back did manage to take home a nice salary during his 11 years in the NFL. According to Spotrac, Bush earned a little over $63 million. Understandably, most of that came during his time with the New Orleans Saints; when you’re the second-overall pick, its almost impossible not to get paid.

Whether you’re looking at his stats or his total salary, Reggie Bush managed to have a solid, if underwhelming, NFL career. Just don’t pay any attention to that single season he played in Buffalo.

All stats courtesy of Sports-Reference and Pro-Football-Reference.


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