The AFC East continues to generate free agent buzz in recent days. Today, the Buffalo Bills are the team in the division generating that buzz, prying run-stuffing linebacker Brandon Spikes from the New England Patriots, pending a physical according to Bills analyst Chris Trapasso. This moves gives the Bills an aggressive field general with attitude at the middle linebacker position to anchor their run defense, which ranked 23rd in the NFL in 2013.
Breaking: A source close to the situation tells me Brandon Spikes and the Buffalo #Bills have agreed to a deal.
— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) March 14, 2014
On the Patriots’ side, they lose a guy who kept their defense afloat last season after losing key run defenders like Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly to injury. Perhaps most importantly, it means the team and most notably Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden, will still have to face him twice a year.
Nicknamed the “Sandman,” Patriots’ fans know how punishing Spikes can be in run defense, delivering punishing hits to the opposition countless times. Losing him will certainly hurt the team in 2014 and beyond in terms of the fear factor.
The good news for the Patriots is that they will get Mayo and Kelly back from injury, which should soften the blow to their run defense, at least in part. Add to that the fact that Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower played well down the stretch last year, and the Patriots linebacking core should still be decent down the road. Still, the Patriots may elect to bring back LB Dane Fletcher, or draft one at some point this May for depth purposes.
It was ultimately time for the team to move on from Spikes, it is just unfortunate for the Patriots and their fans that they had to see him move on to one of their division rivals.