By Nick Shook
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The C.J. Spiller experiment is over before it ever really started in New Orleans.
The release is the latest disappointment to come from Spiller’s professional career, which began with great hope and potential after he spent Saturdays bursting through holes and speeding down sidelines as a Clemson Tiger. He looked to be the next star running back when the Bills took him ninth overall in 2010, but struggles and the injury bug have held him back ever since.
Splitting time in Buffalo with unexpected breakout runner Fred Jackson, Spiller carried the ball 200-plus times in just two of his six seasons before 2016. His best season came when he was afforded the lion’s share of carries, rushing for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns. A broken collarbone limited his 2014 season, his last in Buffalo.
He ended the 2015 season — his first with New Orleans — on injured reserve after a paltry 36 carries on the year. Saints management and head coach Sean Payton hyped Spiller in the offseason as being “noticeably different,” saying his improvements in health and leg strength set him up for an effective season. Then, after a Week 1 healthy scratch, Spiller’s place on the Saints was gone.
“We spent about a half an hour, just he and I, talking (Tuesday),” Payton said Wednesday on a conference call. “I think he’s going to have an opportunity, sooner than later, with another club and yet, the window in this building and with this club is not permanently closed.”
The future is uncertain for Spiller. A running back-needy team could give him a shot, but there are no guarantees after his flame-out in less than two seasons in New Orleans.