Spiller a Plan B for Cowboys, if DeMarco leaves

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Yes, the Cowboys are very confident running back DeMarco Murray will give them a chance to come close to the best offer he finds on the open market.  But they’re prepared, in the event they’re wrong.

Per multiple league sources, the Cowboys will consider adding former Bills running back C.J. Spiller, if Murray leaves.  (In a Wednesday appearance on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Spiller said it’s safe to refer to him as “former” Bills running back.)

Spiller, a friend of PFT (bias acknowledged), presents an interesting candidate in a market that has created a huge gulf between aging workhorses ($10 million plus per year for LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch, and Adrian Peterson) and interchangeable journeyman ($3.5 million or so per year).  In the wake of a report that Spiller passed on $4.5 million per year from the Bills, one source said it was more like $4.5 million the first year, $5 million the second, and more than $6 million the third.  (It’s not known how much of that was fully guaranteed; if the last year wasn’t, it could have been whatever number the Bills wanted to put in there, from $6 million to $6 billion.)

The challenge for any team that pursues Spiller becomes figuring out:  (1) why his career results have been mixed; and (2) what he can do in 2015 and beyond.  Spiller has a career rushing average of 5.0 yards, but that’s bookended by 3.8 as a rookie and 3.8 in his fifth and final season with Buffalo.  In Spiller’s second season, a more potent 5.2-yard output emerged.  In 2012, he matched Adrian Peterson’s 6.0 yards per carry on 141 fewer tries.

Through his first four seasons, Spiller averaged 5.12 yards per carry.  According to a media packet prepared by Spiller’s agent, Chad Speck, it’s the second highest yards per attempt through a player’s first four seasons behind Bo Jackson, who averaged 5.4 yards in his only four NFL season.

Spiller is viewed as a speed back, but the media packet points out that, in 2012 and 2013 combined, 58.4 percent of Spiller’s rushing yards came after contact.

While Spiller is viewed by some as fragile, his profile page at NFL.com shows that he missed only three career games through his first four seasons.  (A broken collarbone knocked him out of seven in 2014.)  Would he be durable if he’s used as a primary weapon?  That’s not known, because throughout most of his career in Buffalo, Spiller shared time with Fred Jackson.

And here’s where the dog starts chasing its tail.  Any team that wants Spiller to be a workhorse will have to pay him accordingly.  But they won’t know that he can be a workhorse until they pay him accordingly.

Then there’s the question of whether an interested team will use him as a workhorse.  Plenty of teams are interested, but who are they interested in?  C.J. Spiller as a 20-plus-touch-per-gamer or C.J. Spiller as a change-of-pace Lightning to a primary dose of Thunder?

During a prior visit to PFT Live, Spiller laughed knowingly when the Jets were mentioned.  And new Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey definitely used Spiller more effectively than Doug Marrone when Gailey coached the Bills.  But Gailey still didn’t make Spiller “the guy.”

Would the Jets, who are interested, make him “the guy”?  Would the Patriots or the Dolphins, who also are interested, make him “the guy”?

The Cardinals possibly would; they’re interested in Spiller in the event they don’t land Peterson in trade with the Vikings.  Washington has interest, but they also have Alfred Morris, who has three straight 1,000-yard seasons to start his career.  The Saints are a potential suitor, but they were one of the first franchises to embrace the revolving door approach to tailbacks.

So that’s the real question that will be answered by the magnitude of the offers he receives:  Will he be the guy?

Then, if/when he is, the question will be whether he can fill those shoes — and whether he can lace them up on a consistent basis.

I think he can (bias reiterated).  But I’m not the one writing the checks.

56 responses to “Spiller a Plan B for Cowboys, if DeMarco leaves

  1. If he can stay healthy, and is behind a good offensive line, he would be a perennial contender for rushing leader. Hate on him now, just like you would have hated on Marshawn when he left Buffalo. But it’s true, book it. I’ll always have respect and the best wishes for these guys that Buffalo keeps pushing out of town too soon.

  2. Great in the open field but soft and can be shut down against a stout defensive front.

    He sure would be fun to watch on the Cowboys, Saints, and Cardinals.

  3. There’s nothing better in the NFL than a dominant offensive line. Call Jerry a moron all you want, but Dallas did a good job here.

  4. Being a Bills fan I hoped that they just let CJ go because I can’t stand watching happy feet. CJ is made of glass and isn’t a full-time RB, even in the best case scenario.

  5. [pipe dream] how about the lightning to eddie lacy’s thunder? in a purely hetero manner, of course. right? [/pipe dream]

  6. Wait..
    I thought there plans were..
    A.) Adrian Peterson
    B.) DeMarco Murray
    Spiller is the C. plan, as usual.

  7. skoobyfl, made of glass? He missed 10 games in 5 season, 7 were last year. Wouldn’t say that makes him made of glass.

    I think pretty much any back could have the year Murray had last year if they were on the Cowboys. The back up had a similar ypc as Murray.

    Would he be the guy in New England, New York, or Miami? History shows the Pats use backs situationally, he won’t be the man there. If his former HC didn’t make him the feature back in Buffalo, I don’t see him doing it as OC in New York. His best chance would probably be in Miami, they are good at over paying and misusing free agents.

  8. Not sure why the Dolphins are mentioned as a potential suitor. They have a speed back already (Miller) but need a hammer that can consistently pound out 2 yards on 3rd and 1.

  9. It’s my opinion that Murray will end up back with the ‘Boys :), unless some team offers him an astronomical contract. Witten and Romo have been buzzing in JJ’s ear, for a while now, wanting him back. Murray wants to stay in Dallas and I hope we can keep him!!!! I think JJ may up the ante, based on the previous offer…

  10. Oakland! Send out some feelers hare! It’s long past time to move on from DMC, MJD couldn’t be The Man and the jury is out on Murray. Between Murray, my man Reece and Spiller, the Raiders could have a dynamic ‘earth, wind and fire’ backfield.

  11. Who knows how he will perform? 5.1 yards per carry. Look at Justin Forsett. Who thought he’d have the year he had last year? It be worth a flyer if you can get him for a good price.

  12. @FinFan, it was a Tweet from a few days ago by Josina Anderson.

    “I’m told potential suitors considering interest include the Cards, Jets, Dolphins & 49ers at this time.”

    Take it with a grain of salt.

  13. I think people forget that he had a very good o line in buffalo his first few seasons and he still wouldn’t run through a hole… The only time Spiller was effective was when Gailey got him out in open space. I remember fans almost begging Gailey to use him more. Nobody understood why he was used so little. Gailey’s comments of Spiller “getting winded” made no sense. Then, when Marrone and Hackett came in, we seen why Gailey only used him sparingly…
    I think CJ’s best bet is in NY, with Gailey again. All those creative plays to get him out in open space is the way to use Spiller. He is just not a north-south type of RB.

  14. I think Ingram would be a better fit, but or the amount of money either Murray or Peterson will cost the Cowboys they could probably sign Ingram and Spiller.

  15. He runs sideways way too much. He might not of missed many games but he is hardly ever fully healthy. And I never seen a back who takes himself off the field so god damn much.

  16. Has the Cowboys offensive line been stable for the last 4 years, because Murray has put up great numbers every time he has played the last 4 seasons. Jerry won’t let him go unless he gets Peterson and that’s even a higher price.

  17. cantescapekarma u hit it dead on. I can’t add anything on to that comment. It is spot on so you guys who want spiller this is who you get

  18. If we can sign murray to a decent deal go for it, draft another running back in second to fourth round (deep class of running backs). If we cant sign him, i would say look for someone like m.ingrAm and either way i feel we shud draft a running back this year. Murray is good but hes not irreplaceable, plus theres no telling if he will hold up all year, remember last year was his first full season playing, i wouldnt break the bank on him, but if hes there at the right price obviously sign him

  19. tigershark0052 and moerawn, do you two just automatically slam the Cowboys once an article comes out about them? I smell either an Eagle or Giant fan that is truly jealous that their team isn’t on the rise.

  20. If Spiller played behind that line I think that the Cowboys would be in for a surprise. Played against him in the Afc east long enough, dude can flat out run when he’s healthy.

  21. I think Jerry is a solid GM, there are 5-6 at another level, everyone else is around the same. Jerry is in the 3rd tier of GMs, or has been. I’m seeing him now as possibly underrated and on the rise. Terrence Williams, those linemen, Murray Romo all his pics the team looks good. I think even the Rolando McLain trade looks good.

    Jerry deserves some credit

  22. I was just thinking of the guys who can carry 300+ times in a season mostly between the tackles, and surprisingly I didn’t come up with Spiller. Jerrah is a genius.

  23. No vision, runs laterally, doesn’t hit the holes and tries to string everything outside. He’s a great guy and I wish him the best of luck. But he shouldn’t be “the guy” for anyone.

  24. richiethegreek says:
    Mar 7, 2015 12:04 PM
    Dallas will have a chance at him only if Philadelphia passes on him.

    That may be true because Philly has much more cap space, but I would think a better match with Darren Sproles would be Mark Ingram.

    They’ve already got the little guy that runs sideways. They need the big between-the-tackles guy.

  25. Well his agent is wrong. I can just tell you off the top of my head that Jammal Charles had better avgs than that his first four years and I’m sure there are others.

    A Quick search confirmed this. Jammal avg better than that in all of his first four years and hasn’t avg less than 5 in any season of his career.

  26. Yes Jerry Jones is a moron but it’s his team…..Murray stays in Dallas and they have another good year.
    The Cardinals Bruce Arians & Steve Keim are putting together a great team piece by piece….Adrian Peterson and Sean Weatherspoon wind up in AZ this season and they have another excellent draft….that gives the Cardinals the thunder and lightening they covet with Andre Ellington and Adrian Peterson…what a combo. If the trade for Peterson falls through then I see them taking Todd Gurley (another Frank Gore). The Cardinals have a plan and it doesn’t include Spiller. Watch out for the Birds in the desert.

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