Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that the Atlanta Falcons have extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent safety Rafael Bush, currently with the New Orleans Saints. Terms of the deal are currently undisclosed. But the Saints now have until April 8 to match the offer sheet, else Bush will become a Falcon. And because the Saints gave him the lowest restricted tender of roughly $1.4 million, the Falcons will owe their divisional rival no compensation in the form of a draft pick since Bush was originally undrafted.
Bush is not new to the Falcons as they were his first NFL team when he signed as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina State in 2010. He spent nearly his entire rookie season on the team’s practice squad before being elevated to the active roster for the season finale. He was once again signed to the practice squad in 2011 after he was cut when the team opted to add veteran James Sanders to fill a reserve role at safety. In October 2011, Bush was signed off the Falcons practice squad by the Denver Broncos, where he played in six games as a special teams player. After being cut the following summer, Bush was scooped up by the Saints and has filled a depth role the past two seasons. This past year, he earned six starts as an injury replacement. He finished the year with 38 tackles and five pass deflections.
Bush will turn 27 in May and spent the bulk of his time in New Orleans as their fourth safety. Prior to his departure from Atlanta, he filled in as a reserve at strong safety and also played some nickel cornerback, making him a versatile reserve option should he join the Falcons. He’ll likely be in the mix for the vacant free safety position if the Falcons don’t fill the position with a draft pick in next month’s draft.
The Saints will be hard-pressed to match the Falcons offer given the fact that they currently have just $2.2 million in 2014 cap space according to reports.