RENTON The Seahawks signed veteran running back C.J. Spiller to address their injuries and need for depth at the position.
A league source with knowledge of the situation said the deal is for one year -- specifically, the remainder of this season -- for the former Buffalo Bills’ No. 1 draft choice.
The Seahawks released recently signed running back Terrence Magee to clear a spot for Spiller on their 53-man roster.
The move underlines how the Seahawks expect lead back Thomas Rawls to remain out with a broken bone in his leg for multiple more games beyond Sunday’s at the New York Jets and next week’s bye. The Seahawks on Wednesday’s practice report defined the bone in which Rawls has a crack as the fibula.
Spiller’s signing could also be an indicator of rookie third-down back C.J. Prosise’s difficulty trying to catch passes with a protective device over a broken bone in his hand that’s kept the third-round pick out of the last two games -- though Prosise was full go in Wednesday’s practice.
Coincidentally, Spiller reportedly worked out with the Jets on Tuesday.
The 29-year old was Buffalo’s first-round pick in 2010, then eventually replaced Marshawn Lynch as the Bills’ featured back until his injury-filled 2014. Spiller made the Pro Bowl for the 2012 season after rushing for a career-high 1,244 yards.
He ran for more than 3,300 yards with 12 touchdowns in 70 games in his time in Buffalo. He also caught 158 passes for six touchdowns and even returned two kickoffs for TDs.
So he could provide versatility and insurance not only for Seattle’s fill-in for Rawls, Christine Michael, but also for Prosise.
Spiller fell out of the Bills’ plans in 2014 after he broke his collarbone in October and missed seven games.
New Orleans signed him to a three-year contract worth that is paying him a guaranteed $1.7 million this season, now that he was on the Saints’ active roster for Week 1. So the Seahawks will likely be signing him for a 14-week proration of the veteran minimum for a player with six vested years in the league, which is a portion of $760,000, or $625,882, by my calculations.
Spiller had offseason knee surgery before the 2015 season then ran for just 112 yards in 13 games for the Saints. His bigger, though still not substantial, impact was with Drew Brees in New Orleans’ passing game: 34 receptions and two touchdowns.
Spiller was healthy but inactive for this season’s Saints opener Sept. 11. Two days later, New Orleans released him.
At the time Saints coach Sean Payton told my pal Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune Spiller is “a phenomenal, phenomenal guy” and a “good teammate.”
Payton explained the Saints cut Spiller because it needed his roster spot for a cornerback after New Orleans lost corner Delvin Breaux to a broken fibula in its opening loss to Oakland.
He also tried out for Green Bay last week.
Should the move become official as expected, Spiller will be the third ex-Bills lead back to play for Seattle in the last six years. Lynch arrived in a trade in October 2010. Fred Jackson signed last year and played one season, the 2015 one, as the Seahawks’ third-down back.