A big reason the Seahawks were able to get Marshawn Lynch in 2010 is C.J. Spiller, so it’s somewhat ironic that the guy who helped Seattle get Beast Mode now steps into the same backfield.
Spiller was the ninth overall pick by Buffalo in 2010, joining Lynch and Fred Jackson in a suddenly – and surprisingly — stacked Bills backfield. John Schneider, in his first year running the Hawks alongside Pete Carroll, tried several times to acquire Lynch that year – finally getting the Bills to part with him in October.
While Lynch went on to star for the Hawks for most of the next six seasons, Spiller ended up a part-time player behind Jackson in 2010 and 2011 before breaking out in 2012, with 1,244 yards (6 per carry), 43 catches and eight total touchdowns. He hasn’t done much since, though, as injuries have knocked him around.
The Hawks obviously are hoping that won’t be a problem as he steps in as the third-down back.
After rushing for 933 yards and catching 33 balls in 2013, he missed seven games in 2014 with a broken clavicle. Last year he joined the Saints and struggled to contribute after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in preseason. He was used almost exclusively as a receiving back, catching 34 passes, before landing on IR to end the season. The Saints cut him after the season opener two weeks ago.
Assuming he is healthy – and can stay that way – Spiller figures to use his excellent receiving skills to help the Seahawks, who have not been able to count on nominal third-down back C.J. Prosise (who can’t catch with his broken wrist) and also are without starter Thomas Rawls (cracked fibula) for a few more weeks.
Rookie Alex Collins played the third-down role last week vs. the 49ers, but Spiller is the more natural player in that role. So the Hawks apparently plan to replace one C.J. with another.
The move will create a lot of buzz, based on the 29-year-old Spiller’s pedigree and the fact that he followed both Lynch and Jackson in Seahawks uniforms. It’s a no-frills stopgap move until the younger Prosise and Rawls recover, although Spiller surely will be given a chance to prove he should stay – a la Christine Michael, who has done well in his second chance as he carries the ball in Rawls’ stead.