KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Chiefs are signing C.J. Spiller one day after releasing the veteran running back, resolving a curious move on cut day that left Kansas City with only two players on the roster at the position.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Sunday night that Spiller was returning to the Chiefs. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the move was not announced.
The Kansas City Star was the first to report that Spiller was returning to Kansas City.
The reason he was released in the first place was to keep injured cornerback Steven Nelson on the roster. The Chiefs wanted to put Nelson on injured reserve with a designation to return, but they could only do that if the third-year pro made the initial 53-man roster.
The designation means that Nelson, who recently had surgery for a core muscle injury, would be eligible to begin practice in six weeks and could begin playing in games after eight weeks.
Those roster moves leave the Chiefs with five cornerbacks and three running backs, numbers that are more in line with what coach Andy Reid traditionally carries from week to week.
Reid was asked earlier Sunday about the decision to keep just two running backs, rookie Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West, when rosters were trimmed on Saturday. He did mention Spiller by name, but Reid seemed to indicate that something was in the works for him to return to the team.
“We’ll see how things go here in the next day or two,” Reid said.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach also intimated that Spiller, who appears rejuvenated now that he is finally healthy, would return during a conference call with reporters Saturday night.
“As you know C.J., being a veteran in this league, is not subject to waivers,” Veach explained, “and there’s a possibility that C.J. may end up on our roster. Again, we’ve had that conversation.
“We’ll continue to monitor the situation around the league and see what’s out there,” Veach added, “what’s available. So there’s certainly a likely scenario where C.J. is on our team.”
It’s possible the Chiefs took a look at other running backs on the waiver wire, but a combination of factors made Spiller’s return the obvious choice. The Chiefs were 27th on the priority list, meaning most of the best options were snapped up by other teams, and they open the season Thursday night in New England, meaning a quick turnaround for someone unfamiliar with their system.
Spiller has been with the Chiefs throughout the offseason and training camp.
He became an important piece of the Chiefs’ plans when Spencer Ware, who was in line to share the starting job with Hunt, sustained a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game at Seattle.
Hunt is arguably the Chiefs’ most versatile running back, and West provides a smaller jitterbug, but Spiller believes he provides them with his own unique skillset.
“Every running back in the league is different from each other. Everybody isn’t going to be the exact same,” he said during training camp. “Everybody could go on a different team and be successful. That is how much belief and confidence I have in all the guys in that room, because we all bring something totally different. It is exciting to come to work with these guys.”