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NFC Whispers

Payton thinks Bush could be back with Saints

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By PFW staff

Following are whispers we've been hearing from around the NFC:

• Our Green Bay sources tell us CB Patrick Lee, a former second-round pick who has been a disappointment for the most part, might have earned a new lease on life as a Packer after his strong relief effort in the Super Bowl when pressed into action following injuries to both Charles Woodson and Sam Shields.

• Word is new Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh could be interested in Buccaneers backup QB Josh Johnson, who played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego.

• Saints head coach Sean Payton wouldn't go as far as to say having Reggie Bush back in New Orleans next season is a sure thing — Bush will have to take a significant pay cut to return. Payton did indicate that he thinks the two sides can work out a deal and expects Bush to be a part of the team. With Pierre Thomas signing an extension earlier this offseason and Chris Ivory expected back, the Saints would have a potentially solid three-man rotation at running back. Our sources are convinced, however, that New Orleans will spend a draft pick, perhaps an early one, on a running back.

• An injury to Jeremy Trueblood last season gave James Lee his first chance at extended playing time in the NFL, and he held up well, showing the potential to develop into a solid right tackle in his nine starts. The Buccaneers like Lee but they're not ready to commit to him as the starter at right tackle just yet, we're told. With Trueblood due to become a free agent this offseason, we hear the Bucs want to add depth at tackle and would like to bring in competition for Lee, who's entering his fourth NFL season. Tampa Bay reportedly extended a tender offer to Trueblood before the work stoppage, so the team has interest in bringing him back.

• Our insiders in the desert would be surprised if the Cardinals were willing to actually give up the fifth overall pick in the draft in exchange for Eagles QB Kevin Kolb — which is what we are hearing it reportedly would take to land him.

• Don't rule out the possibility of the Rams possibly moving either Ron Bartell or Jerome Murphy from cornerback to safety now that O.J. Atogwe has signed with the Redskins.

• We hear that 49ers ILBs Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes, who is a free agent, have been working out together in the Atlanta area.

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