Saints had their sights on a reunion with Reggie Bush before C.J. Spiller deal came together _lowres

In this Oct. 29, 2014, file photo, Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush carries the ball against the New Orleans Saints during an NFL football game in Detroit. The Lions released Bush on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, halfway through the four-year deal he s


PHOENIX — One of the signature players from early in Sean Payton’s tenure in New Orleans almost returned to town.

Entering free agency, the Saints did not expect to be able to sign C.J. Spiller. They assumed he’d want to go somewhere where he could get more touches and more money. So while he was coveted, New Orleans decided to set their sights on Reggie Bush after he was released by the Detroit Lions.

“It was good, shoot we had dinner in L.A.,” Payton said. “I was out there in we were able to sit down and that was really prior to really the start of it all. It was really just, ‘Hey this would be a good fit.’

“And again with a player like that, it’s more about do we have a vision of exactly how we’d use him and I think we did. But again a few days later, Spiller is taking a visit so it just sorted out in a way that was a little unique. I think we expected Spiller to be somewhere else with a higher number. But it all worked out.”

A few days later the Saints were sitting down with Spiller and explaining their vision to him. Spiller liked the idea and decided to join New Orleans on a four-year, $16 million deal, despite likely having more lucrative offers elsewhere.

Bush, meanwhile, signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

It sounds like Payton is excited about how things worked out.