Unrestricted free agency opens in the NFL with the start of the new league year on March 9. With 22 players set to hit the open market, the Buffalo Bills have plenty of decisions to make between now and then. The Buffalo News will take a look at each player with an expiring contract, and offer a verdict on what the team should do. Next up is Brandon Spikes.
Position: Inside linebacker. Age: 29. 2016 stats: 11 games, nine tackles.
Working in his favor: Spikes' best season with the Bills came back in 2014 under Jim Schwartz, when the Bills ran a 4-3 scheme. The team is expected to go back to that under new coach Sean McDermott. Spikes could provide veteran depth at a low cost. He seems to be a respected teammate, particularly inside the linebacker room.
Working against him: Two-down, run-stuffing linebackers are becoming dinosaurs in the NFL, and that's Spikes. He's a liability in coverage at a time teams are throwing the ball more than ever. Spikes also doesn't have a role on special teams. For a reserve linebacker, that's a must.
Verdict: Spikes spent 2015 out of football, and very well could have missed 2016 if injuries didn't hit the Bills at linebacker during training camp. None of the off-field incidents that caused him to leave the Patriots have come up in Buffalo, but there won't be any hurry for the Bills to re-sign him. If the team needs Spikes again as the 2017 season draws near, they should be able to sign him to a low-cost, one-year contract.