The Bills have officially reached an agreement with free agent linebacker Brandon Spikes on a one-year deal. Spikes was out of the NFL last season, but spent the 2014 campaign with Buffalo.
Spikes, 28, drew the interest of another AFC East last week, as he worked out for the Dolphins before Miami signed fellow linebacker Danny Lansanah instead. Though he didn’t appear in an NFL game in 2015, Spikes did agree to a one-year deal with the Patriots last summer, but was released following his involvement in a hit-and-run. Spikes was sentenced to one-year probation and was handed a four-game suspension by the league, but he was able to serve that ban while a free agent last year.
Buffalo’s addition of Spikes casts doubt on the status of rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland, whom the Bills are “definitely concerned” about after he suffered a knee injury — but likely avoided ligament damage — on Friday. As the club’s depth chart indicates, Buffalo is rather thin behind their top three ‘backers, so Spikes can act as depth (at the very least) while Ragland recovers.
Spikes is mostly viewed as a two-down linebacker that struggles in pass coverage, meaning he’ll likely be taken off the field in sub packages. However, 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 in 2014, as he ranked fourth-best at his position in yards per coverage snap and coverage snaps per reception. Overall, he graded as PFF’s 13th-best inside linebacker in the league in 2014 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.