Restricted free agent Rafael Bush has signed an offer sheet with the Atlanta Falcons. But he isn't a member of the Falcons just yet. There's an important difference.
I mention this because I've noticed a lot of stupid Saints fans tweeting hateful things to Bush, thinking he's the newest player on the Atlanta Falcons and a traitor as such. Not only is that just classless, but it's also premature and incorrect. While I can't stop some Saints fans from acting like complete jerkoff assholes, the least I can do is educate them some.
By the way, here's a fun fact about Rafael Bush: he was originally signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
Back to the offer sheet. The first definition of "offer" according to the Collins English Dictionary is "to present for acceptance or rejection." That's where the Saints stand now. They have until April 8th to decide whether they want to accept the offer submitted by the Falcons by matching it, which would keep him here in New Orleans. Or they can reject the offer, in which case Bush then officially becomes a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
Here is the official wording from Article 9 Section 3 of the current NFL CBA:
Section 3. Offer Sheet and Right of First Refusal Procedures:
(a) Offer Sheets. When a Restricted Free Agent receives an offer to sign a Player Contract from any Club (the "New Club") other than the Prior Club, which offer the player desires to accept, he shall give to the Prior Club a completed certificate substantially in the form of Appendix B, attached hereto (the "Offer Sheet" ), signed by the Restricted Free Agent and the New Club, which shall contain the "Principal Terms" (as defined below) of the New Club's offer. The New Club and the player must specifically identify in the Offer Sheet those provisions they believe are Principal Terms. The Prior Club, within five days from the date it receives the Offer Sheet, may exercise or not exercise its Right of First Refusal, which shall have the legal consequences set forth below.
(b) First Refusal Exercise Notice. If the Prior Club gives the Restricted Free Agent a "First Refusal Exercise Notice" substantially in the form of Appendix C, attached hereto, within five days from the date the Prior Club receives an Offer Sheet, but not later than one day before the Draft (unless the parties agree otherwise), such Restricted Free Agent and the Prior Club shall be deemed to have entered into a binding agreement, which they shall promptly formalize in a Player Contract, containing (i) all the Principal Terms (subject to Subsection (e) below); (ii) those terms of the NFL Player Contract not modified by the Principal Terms; and (iii) such additional terms, not less favorable to the player than those contained in the Offer Sheet as may be agreed upon between the Restricted Free Agent and the Prior Club.
(c) No First Refusal Exercise Notice. If the Prior Club does not give the Restricted Free Agent the First Refusal Exercise Notice within the applicable period, the player and the New Club shall be deemed to have entered into a binding agreement, which they shall prompdy formalize in a Player Contract, containing (i) all the Principal Terms; (ii) those terms of the NFL Player Contract not modified by the Principal Terms; and (iii) such additional terms, not less favorable to the Restricted Free Agent than those contained in the Offer Sheet, as may be agreed upon between the Restricted Free Agent and the New Club (subject to Section 5 below), and the Restricted Free Agent's Prior Club shall receive from the New Club the Draft Choice Compensation, if any, specified in Section 2 above of this Article. Any Club that does not have available, in the upcoming Draft, the selection choice or choices (its own or better choices in the applicable rounds) needed to provide Draft Choice Compensation in the event of a timely First Refusal Exercise Notice may not sign an Offer Sheet in such circumstances. The player and the New Club may not renegotiate such Player Contract to reduce the Salary in such contract until after the end of the first regular season covered by the Contract. Neither the player nor the New Club may exercise an option in such Player Contract that reduces Salary in the first League Year of such contract until after the end of the first regular season covered by the Contract.
Bush is now technically in a sort of limbo period. He's not really a Saint but he's not a Falcon either. He is, however, guaranteed to get more than the one-year, $1.4 million tender the Saints offered him earlier this off-season. It's just a question of whether it will be paid by the Saints or the Falcons.
Yes, Bush has been negotiating with the Falcons. Yes, Bush and the Falcons have agreed to the terms of a possible new contract. But he hasn't signed an actual contract, and the contract is what makes him an Atlanta Falcon.
So back the hell off Bush and give the guy a break. He's doing what every damn one of you would do in his situation; he's doing what's best for himself and his family.