Are the Saints STUCK With Keeping Free-Agent “Busts”?

4 of 4

The Not So Thriller With Spiller

Nov 15, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; New Orleans Saints running back C.J. Spiller (28) carries the ball against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Concerning Spiller and his tenure with the team, this is where things could get murky involving his release; which is surprisingly being predicted by not just the fans, but by the media as well.

When the signing of the supposed versatile running back was announced, I’ll admit I got a little excited knowing that Brees could have another explosive offensive weapon to take advantage of.

But at this point, it seems like the Saints are the only ones that got taken advantage of; after he signed a 4-year, $16 million dollar contract that has only produced 112 yards rushing, 239 yards receiving, and two touchdowns that culminated in Spiller being inactive for this past Sunday’s game.

Those low numbers have been attributed to Spiller’s lack of playing time on offense that Payton has given a number of excuses; such as rehabilitation and recovery from offseason knee surgery, to fellow back Mark Ingram being better at pass protection than Spiller.

That lead to the assumption Spiller would see more time when Ingram went on injured reserve and the only other viable option on the roster was journeyman Tim Hightower — which actually, the complete opposite occurred.

There has also been speculation that Spiller isn’t picking the offense up as quick as the staff thought he would; and a recent report  following the Jaguars game on WWL 870 AM’s “The Point After” show with host Bobby Hebert said Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic, stated that Spiller’s deactivation for the game was due to “practice habits”.

Not good if it’s true — at all.

The announcement came Wednesday afternoon that Spiller was formally placed on injured reserve, which would coincide with Payton adding that the running back was struggling to get strength back in his leg that required surgery.

If the Saints did want to cut ties with Spiller then he would be the most “economic casualty” as far as salary is concerned.

His cap hit for 2016 is $4.5 million; which turns into $3.75 million in dead cap space if he is released prior to June 1st. However, after that the dead space becomes a manageable $1.25 million.

Dec 27, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Tim Hightower (34) celebrates a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Another thing that could seal the release of Spiller is that the Saints may have found a gem in Hightower; who in only seven games has 309 yards rushing, 88 yards receiving, and three touchdowns.

And let’s not forget newly signed, but old Saint, Travaris Cadet — who in his first game back with the team had only six yards rushing but snagged three receptions for 69 yards(23 yd. avg.) and one touchdown.

While this doesn’t exactly mean that Spiller is out the door, it does mean that the Saints will be doing some really close evaluation of his contract and the running back position following Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Perhaps then and only then, we’ll see just what the Saints plan to do, about their ever-growing list of free-agent “busts”……….