In today’s NFL, more and more teams are having success with a stable of ball-carriers versus the days of yore where one running back would carry the team to victory. The Buffalo Bills epitomize this trend, touting three strong running backs in the case of Bryce Brown, Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller for the 2014 season.
Brown mixes size and speed, Spiller electrifies the crowd with his playmaking abilities and Jackson brings veteran leadership in his blocking, pass-catching and effort that has earned him a lengthy stay in the NFL after playing his college ball at the Division III level.
It will be interesting how the three mesh, as Brown is a new piece added to the duo of Jackson and Spiller. Jackson and Spiller (Jackson, specifically) have faced injury problems in their careers, so while some may be concerned that there are not enough carries for all three, I pose the question: How often does a team make it through the season without an injury to at least one of their running backs?
I would be willing to bet that there will be chunks of the season where only two of the three will be available, but the Bills likely will not miss a beat as they look to lead the league in rushing after finishing in second only to Philadelphia last season.
So with all that said, I think it is time to throw some more money CJ Spiller’s way. Spiller has recently expressed interest in returning to Buffalo after his contract his up in March and if I were general manager Doug Whaley, I would reciprocate that interest.
Jackson, 33, also has an expiring contract after this season and it is questionable whether or not he will continue to play after eight seasons, a pretty long career for a running back.
If I were the Bills, I would thank Jackson for his excellent play and his hard work throughout a trying rebuilding process, but I would have to send him on his way after this season.
With the loss of Jackson, I would look to lock up Spiller (and subsequently Brown) long-term. Spiller is in the prime of his career and it would go a long way for developing quarterback EJ Manuel to have a solid running mate for years to come.
The question is how to go about locking him up. Players oftentimes step up their game in a contract year and the Bills might look to capitalize on Spiller’s desire to earn a fat contract. On the other hand, a contract extension right away could boost Spiller’s confidence for himself and in the direction the Bills are trending toward.
If I had to make a choice today, I’d extend him. After rushing for 2,000 yards in the past two seasons while sharing carries, his value is tremendous both for fantasy owners and Bills management alike. If Jackson is gone after this year, look for Spiller to earn a healthy new contract and further carry the load for the Bills.