This contract isn’t inappropriate for a player of Spiller’s skill set, as Spiller will make 18 million over 4 years with 9 million guaranteed. That’s the 2nd most a running back has gotten on the open market after DeMarco Murray this off-season, but you can make an argument that Spiller was the 2nd best back available through free agency this year. CJ Spiller, a 2010 1st round pick, had a fantastic 2012 campaign, rushing for 1244 yards and 6 touchdowns on 207 carries (6.01 YPC), with 43 catches for 459 yards and 3 touchdowns.
He looked poised for a breakout year in 2013 as a 300+ touch back, but he struggled with injuries over the last 2 seasons (missing 8 games combined and being limited in several others) and he was never a great fit for Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett’s offense. Over the past 2 seasons, he’s rushed for 1233 yards and 2 touchdowns on 280 carries (4.40 YPC), with 52 catches for 310 yards and a touchdown, combined numbers that many people thought he’d be able to surpass in 2013 alone.
He’s never surpassed 207 carries with annual issues in pass protection (grading out below average in 4 of 5 seasons) and he’s coming off the worst season of his career, 300 yards on 78 carries (3.85 YPC) in 9 games. However, he has a 4.97 YPC average and shows clear first round talent at times. While this isn’t a great value for him, it’s not inappropriate. The value isn’t my issue with this deal.
My issue with this deal is the Saints came into the off-season in the least financially flexible situation, but they’ve committed 8.5 million annually to Mark Ingram and CJ Spiller combined, more than DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy both got from the Eagles and Bills respectively (and I wasn’t a fan of either of those deals either). The Saints have already had to trade Jimmy Graham and Ben Grubbs and now reportedly will have to cut Jahri Evans to make this deal work. Those were three functional or better players for them last season. The Saints would have been better off drafting a rookie in the mid rounds to pair with Khiry Robinson, keeping one of their guards or finding a replacement on the open market, and investing more in their terrible defense, rather than committing this many resources to the running back position.