New Orleans Saints top draft pick Reggie Bush will likely be a holdout when the team opens training camp in Jackson next week, a representative of the star running back told the Clarion-Ledger today.
Mike Ornstein, Bush's marketing agent, said Bush and the Saints "probably" won't agree to terms on a contract until after camp starts.
The Saints report to Millsaps College on July 27 and will start practice the following afternoon on the campus just north of downtown Jackson.
"Do we feel like he'll be there at the start?" Ornstein said in a telephone interview from his California office. "I'm not sure where we are right now. I'd say probably not, at this stage."
Bush, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Southern Cal, was the No. 2 overall pick in April's NFL draft. During the Saints' rookie mini-camp in May, Bush said he told his team of agents to do whatever they needed to make sure a deal was reached that would allow him to report to camp on time.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis did not immediately respond to an interview request. The Saints have signed three of their eight 2006 draft picks in the past 10 days. But the team's top four picks remain unsigned a week before players report, which is not uncommon among NFL teams. Many deals, especially ones involving higher-round picks, typically get done weeks into training camp.
Apparently at issue is whether the Saints will offer Bush, who many rated as the top player in the draft, a better deal than what Houston gave Mario Williams when the Texans surprisingly chose the former North Carolina State defensive end first overall.
Williams has reportedly agreed to a six-year deal worth $54 million, with $26.5 million in guaranteed pay.
Ornstein is one of at least two lead members of a team that handles Bush's professional matters. Ornstein said he primarily negotiates the player's endorsement deals. Joel Segal, who will negotiate Bush's contract with the Saints, declined to comment when reached on his cell phone this afternoon.
Ornstein's comments come a day after the agent for former Texas quarterback Vince Young, the No. 3 overall pick, said he was heading to Nashville to get a deal done in time for Young to open camp with the Tennessee Titans late next week.
Ornstein said Bush is in Los Angeles, where he shot a commercial for Pepsi on Tuesday and has been working out on the USC campus.
"He's been training and getting himself ready," Ornstein said. "Reggie's going to be fine."
Anyone think this could turn into a long holdout?