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Spiller would add a dynamic element to the Pats offense and special teams. AP Photo/Elise Amendola
With Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley set to hit free agency Monday, the Patriots will need to add a running back to their backfield. According to Yahoo's Rand Getlin, they could be looking at a division rival to fill that void.

Getlin reports that the Patriots are amongst the teams interested in former Bill and free agent to-be CJ Spiller. Other interested parties include the Dolphins, Jets, Cardinals, Niners, Redskins, Cowboys and Lions.

Spiller, the ninth overall pick from the 2010 draft, has flashed explosive ability in his Bills career. He was one of the best backs in all of football back in 2012, rushing for 1,244 yards on only 207 carries (6 yards per carry) while adding 459 yards on 43 receptions. The arrival of Doug Marrone and EJ Manuel didn't help his numbers, but Spiller was still effective in 2013, gaining 927 yards on only 201 carries (4.6 ypc).

While "injury prone" is a label that has stuck to Spiller, 2014 was the first time he missed significant action due to injury in his career. A broken collarbone kept him out of 7 games last year (he's played in 70 of a possible 80 games in his career), and poor offensive line play certainly contributed to a major statistical dip when he was on the field.

One of the biggest questions facing Spiller is whether he's big enough to withstand the load as a "feature back", but he wouldn't have to answer that question in New England. Spiller shared carries with Fred Jackson for his entire Bills career and thrived, just as he'd likely split carries with LeGarrette Blount/Jonas Gray/whoever else in New England. His natural receiving ability would make him a natural fit to replace Vereen as the team's "passing down" back, and his ability on kick returns would add a big play dynamic on special teams.

However, my guess is that money will prevent this move from coming to fruition. Spiller reportedly turned down a $4.5 million a year offer from the Bills, leading them to trade for Lesean McCoy. I can't imagine the Pats offering that much to a running back, even one with Spiller's explosiveness. Spiller also might find a bigger role awaiting him in Miami, New York, Arizona, Dallas (presuming DeMarco Murray leaves via free agency) and Detroit.

In the end, both Spiller and his suitors will likely have to wait for the market to set itself. DeMarco Murray is the name to watch here, as his free agency could either reset the free agent market or re-affirm the league's devaluation of the running back position. Names like Ryan Matthews, Mark Ingram and Justin Forsett could receive more interest as every down threats, and Adrian Peterson remains the ultimate wild card of the offseason.

Ned Brady 3/07/2015 01:46:00 PM Edit
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