The Patriots have signed free agent linebacker Brandon Spikes to a one-year deal, according to Adam Schefter and Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Spikes visited the Pats earlier this month and less than two weeks later, he has found himself an NFL home for 2015.
The 27-year-old started his career with the Pats, spending four seasons with the team before joining the division-rival Bills a year ago. While he’s typically taken off the field in passing downs, Spikes is an effective part-time player, specializing as a run defender. He received interest from – or at least been linked to – the 49ers, Vikings, Dolphins, and Bills this offseason, but none of those teams could keep him from returning to New England.
On an admittedly small sample of passing downs, the advanced metrics from Pro Football Focus (subscription required) were actually kind to Spikes’ pass-coverage abilities, as he ranked fourth-best at his position in yards per coverage snap and coverage snaps per reception. Still, you can expect to see him mostly against the run. Overall, he graded as PFF’s 13th-best inside linebacker in the league last season thanks to his run-stopping ability. Spikes finished ninth against the run at his position in 2014 and ranked No. 1 against the run in both 2012 and 2013.
By signing Spikes after May 12, the Pats avoided having his deal counted toward the compensatory draft pick formula for 2016.