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Lions' Mayhew noncommittal about Reggie Bush for 2015

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Indianapolis — With Reggie Bush turning 30 next month and Joique Bell turning 29 in August, the Lions likely will target a long-term solution at running back in April's draft.

General manager Martin Mayhew fielded a question Wednesday about the traits he looks for in a back, and in listing them, he mentioned a between-the-tackles runner like Bell and a receiving back like Theo Riddick.

Notably missing from the assessment was Bush, who is a candidate to be released this offseason to save $1.7 million on the salary cap. As of Wednesday, Mayhew said the team had not decided whether Bush would be with the team in 2015.

"No, we haven't at this point," he said at the NFL combine.

Mayhew explained that many of the Lions decisions this offseason will have to wait until they know whether All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will be with the team and at what price.

If the Lions use the franchise tag at the exorbitant $26.9 million, players like Bush or linebacker Stephen Tulloch could be cut to create cap space, and wide receiver Calvin Johnson or quarterback Matthew Stafford might need to restructure their contracts.

Bush struggled in 2014 as an ankle sprain lingered, holding him out of five games and slowing him in others. He finished the season with 297 rushing yards and 253 receiving yards, averaging just 6.3 yards per catch.

Riddick, meanwhile, proved in his second season he could be a receiving threat with 316 receiving yards and a 9.3-yard average per reception. Bell led the Lions with 860 rushing yards and 322 receiving yards, and he averaged 9.5 yards per catch.

"Anybody on our roster, there are a lot of futures up in the air," Mayhew said when pressed about Bush. "My future's up in the air, too. It's the NFL. I would say that about Ndamukong. I would say that about all of our free agents — their future is up in the air."

The difference, though, is Bush is not a free agent, and he's entering the third year of a four-year, $16 million contract he signed in March 2013.

"It's really about the value you bring to the organization that's constantly re-evaluated every offseason," Mayhew said.

Whether Bush is back, the Lions likely will look for a running back in the draft.

"I like guys with different traits," Mayhew said. "I want to build that roster with guys that can do different things in the course of the game. An all-around back is good obviously, but when you have a guy like Theo Riddick who can make a difference in the passing game that brings value to your team. Joique Bell being a between-the-tackles runner for us is big, and he does a good job catching balls out of the backfield as well.

"I like guys that are versatile, but you've got to have a guy that can run between the tackles and you've got to have a playmaker who can do some stuff in space."

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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