Reggie Bush spent the last few months nursing an ankle injury that limited his role in the Detroit Lions’ underachieving offense.
He’ll spend the next few weeks looking for a new team.
The Lions released Bush Wednesday in a cost-cutting move that will free up cap room to help the team with its chief off-season pursuit, re-signing All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Bush, who turns 30 next month, played just 11 games last year and finished with 297 yards rushing, the second lowest total of his career, as he took a backseat to Joique Bell in the running back rotation.
The Lions ranked 28th in the league in rushing last year (88.9 ypg) and coach Jim Caldwell singled out the running game last month as one area the team needs to improve for 2015.
“For the most part I just think that we just have to be a little bit better just in terms of getting our running game off to a start better earlier in the year,” Caldwell said. “But I think we’ve got to do some of the same things we did before. I think if we don’t turn the ball over, give ourselves the opportunity, I think it’s going to be fine. We’ve got a great nucleus of guys coming back. But I think you’re going to see improvement in all of those areas.”
The Lions entered today with about $126 million in top-51 salary cap commitments, giving them a projected $17 million of cap space to spend on Suh, their draft class and others this offseason.
By cutting Bush, who was due a $3.25 million base salary this year and had $250,000 workout bonus in his contract, they created another $1.7 million in cap room.
Bush, one of the Lions’ big three free-agent additions in 2013 along with Glover Quin and Jason Jones, had an immediate impact in his first season with the team.
He became the first Lions’ 1,000-yard back since Kevin Jones in 2004 and finished for 1,006 yards rushing, the second highest total of his career.
But after a slow start last year, Bush sprained his ankle in a Week 5 loss to the Buffalo Bills and was in and out of the lineup the rest of the season. He topped 50 yards rushing just twice in a game last year, and had just three touchdowns, including an 18-yard run in a playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Lions’ decision to cut Bush comes weeks after The Advocate reported that a co-defendant in the Darren Sharper rape case told a Louisiana district attorney’s office that he saw Bush putting the drug ecstasy in Champagne glasses at a Las Vegas nightclub.
Bush denied the claim on Twitter, his attorney, Shawn Holley, told the Free Press that Bush is not under investigation and there has “never been any complaint made by any person of this happening,” and it’s unclear what if anything that claim had to do with the team’s decision to release him.