Spikes Made Lasting Impression with the Bills

Brandon Spikes re-signed with the New England Patriots on Monday. Buffalo never seemed serious about bringing Spikes back in 2015, but the inside linebacker made a lasting impression during his season with the Bills.

Brandon Spikes returned to the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft on Monday. You can't blame Spikes for re-signing with the New England Patriots, regardless of the comments he made about New England after leaving the team in 2014. He sat on the free agent market for months and didn't draw much interest. Spikes wanted to continue his NFL career and the Patriots were willing to give him a deal. It’s that simple.

The Bills never seemed serious about re-signing Spikes, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the team ended up missing Spikes in 2015.

On the field, Spikes played a big part in improving Buffalo's run defense. In 2013, the Bills finished 28th in the league in run defense. They allowed 2,063 yards rushing on 4.4 yards per carry (YPC). In 2014, the team was much improved in this area. Buffalo only allowed 1,703 yards and their YPC allowed dropped to 4.1 yards. It was good enough for the team to finish 11th in the league. Spikes doesn’t deserve all of the credit by any means, but it’s no coincidence that he finished ninth among all ILB in run defense at Pro Football Focus last season.

 If the team struggles in run defense, Bills fans will be quick to point out that Spikes wanted to return to Buffalo, but it’s also easy to see why the Bills didn’t extend an offer to Spikes.

In Buffalo, Spikes was a two down linebacker in 2014. He played 519 snaps. If Spikes had re-signed in Buffalo, his snap count would have dropped barring an injury in 2015. That’s not a knock on Spikes. It’s simply that the Bills will be using Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown at inside linebacker this season. There’s no doubt that Buffalo considered this and it’s probably one of the biggest reasons why the team never extended a true offer to the linebacker. They’ve gotten younger at the position and have two players who are better all-around linebackers. Behind the starting duo is Ty Powell. Powell is a relative unknown nationally, but Rex Ryan has praised the linebacker as a backup option.

The dollars and cents most likely didn’t make sense to the Bills when it came to re-signing Spikes. That said, Spikes brought more to the team than just his on-field play.

Off the field, Spikes was a locker room leader. From the second he signed in Buffalo, Spikes led by example and was vocal with his teammates. Spikes’ teammates responded to him and respected him. In turn, the team named Spikes as one of their captains in 2014. It wasn’t just Spikes’ teammates that respected what Spikes brought to the team. In August, General Manager Doug Whaley praised Spikes on what he added to the team:

 “Leadership, attitude,” said Whaley. “He’s galvanized the defense, and he’s just been an exceptional addition to our organization.”

Spikes made a lasting impression with the Bills in 2014, but it wasn’t enough to re-sign him. Buffalo is banking on the fact that they can replace what Spikes brought to the team internally in 2015. If they’re wrong, they’ll regret letting Spikes walk away to their division rival. 


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