That means the Saints will have the right to match any other offer Bush might sign with another team. But they would receive no draft-pick compensation if they allow Bush to leave.
That's a little risky, since Bush showed his value as a part-time starter for the Saints last season and could be in line to move up into more of a full-time role this year. But it would have cost the Saints around $2.2 million to move up to the second-round compensation level.
Bush, 26, has been an underrated asset for the Saints over the past two years on both defense and special teams. He played about two-thirds of the Saints' defensive snaps when he was healthy last year, since they featured so many three-safety packages. Used primarily as a deep safety, he had a career-high 42 tackles.
The Saints have three other restricted free agents –-- fullback Jed Collins, receiver Joe Morgan and defensive lineman Tom Johnson. They need to make qualifying offers to them by Tuesday to keep them from being unrestricted free agents.
Sources have already indicated that the Saints don't plan to re-sign Johnson. But they will likely try to keep both Collins and Morgan -- whether they offer them tenders or work out contract agreements.