Watching Brodrick Bunkley voluntarily cut his 2014 pay by nearly $2.9 million in April so the Saints could sign cornerback Champ Bailey and retain safety Rafael Bush makes John Jenkins want to “go all out” for his teammate and fellow nose tackle.
“You’ve got to realize this is a business; and for somebody to do that and alter their livelihood for us to bring in another guy, that shows a good sense of leadership, and I’m very grateful he did that,” Jenkins, a second-year player, said recently. “That’s one of the situations where I see myself going in next year and going all out for a guy like Brodrick Bunkley.”
Defensive line coach Bill Johnson added Bunkley’s decision was just the latest illustration of how much veterans are attracted to playing in New Orleans, where the Saints have won the Super Bowl and been to the playoffs three times in the last five seasons.
“That’s the kind of guys we got,” Johnson said of Bunkley, heading into his ninth year in the NFL and third with the Saints. “People do what it takes for the team, and people want to be here; so you do what you got to do to be here.”
Originally owed $4.5 million in salary and bonuses for the upcoming season, Bunkley is due to make $1.65 million after slicing his compensation, according to information from both the NFL Players Association and various media reports.
The salary-cap space created by Bunkley’s pay cut helped the Saints ink Bailey to a two-year deal that guaranteed him only $500,000 but offered millions more in incentives; and it made it easier for the team to match a two-season contract worth up to $4.55 million that Atlanta had offered Bush, a restricted free agent.
Twelve-time Pro Bowler Bailey’s 52 career interceptions are the most among active cornerbacks. Meanwhile, after impressing in 2013, Bush is penciled in as the No. 3 safety on a Saints defense that often used three safeties last year.