If there’s anything C.J. Spiller said he learned in his five-year career in the NFL, it’s you’d best learn to put your ego aside, especially if you are a running back who was a top-10 draft pick.
For that reason, not only does Spiller not mind, but he is looking forward to taking a likely secondary role to Mark Ingram in the Saints backfield.
“I am excited about the chance to play alongside him,” Spiller said Friday after agreeing to terms with the Saints following five years with the Buffalo Bills. “I have kind of always been in a two-back system since I started college.
“So whatever that role might be is what I have to be willing to accept. Anything I can do to try to help the offense be successful and help the team be successful.”
Of course, it probably helps Spiller that he’s actually receiving more money than Ingram, a reported $18 million over four years vs. $16 million over the same time frame.
And that’s for someone who played in only nine games last season because a broken collarbone, finishing with just 300 rushing yards, 125 receiving yards and one touchdown — the lowest total since his rookie year.
The Bills showed little interest in retaining Spiller especially after last week’s signing of LeSean McCoy.
“Last year kind of hurt, but it made me a better person,” said Spiller, who missed only two games in his first four seasons. “It put some things in perspective for me, and it made me more mentally tough than I thought I was.
“But now I am back 100 percent and feel great. My best years are to come.”
Spiller’s skill set is much like departed former Saints Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas — a change of pace back with good receiving ability.
However, in 2012 Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards with a career-best 459 receiving yards. He was named to the Pro Bowl that season, replacing Ray Rice, whose Baltimore Ravens were in the Super Bowl.
In none of his five seasons in Buffalo did the Bills make the playoffs, something Spiller said had an impact on his signing with the Saints.
“That’s what you play the game for,” he said. “You do it to win championships.
“It’s so hard to do, but you have to look forward to the challenge. I’m coming to a great organization that has won a championship and they have the mentality to win another one.”
Spiller added that the Saints’ flurry of other moves, including trading tight end Jimmy Graham, did not come up in discussions about signing.
In New Orleans, Spiller will be reunited with former Bills teammate Jairus Byrd, whom he was working out with in California on Friday.
Ingram also has a connection with Spiller.
They had the same college running backs coach — New Orleanian Burton Burns — at Clemson and Alabama, respectively.
“I know how (Ingram) has been coached and I kind of how an idea of what is mentality is,” Spiller said. “I know he’s excited about this opportunity, too.”