Ever since last offseason, the prevailing belief was that the New England Patriots would let Brandon Spikes walk in free agency in 2014. Although Spikes is a talented player and one of the best run defenders in the entire league, he’s a liability in coverage and didn’t seem to be viewed favorably by the organization. I firmly believe that any character concerns used against Spikes are exaggerated, though, especially since his aggressive style made him a catalyst on defense.
But the reason why Spikes is fully expected to leave this offseason is because of the team’s wealth of talent at linebacker and the emergence of rookie Jamie Collins, who was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. Spikes was placed on the injured reserve for the Patriots two playoff games, and Collins’s incredible play in both games spelled the end for Spikes’s time in New England. Not only did Collins show off the playmaking ability, coverage ability, and pass rushing that he flashed in college and in training camp, but he also looked like a very good run defender and showed even more versatility than initially thought. With Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower locked in on the outside, there just isn’t any room for Spikes, especially with the Patriots working right up against the cap.
Per a source close to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, the Patriots haven’t even spoken with Spikes about a potential deal this offseason, and this only confirms that he is a goner. Even though his time with the Patriots ended on a sour note, Spikes’s elite run defense and quality interior pass rushing make him a very good starting LB in this league that make up for his slowness in coverage. He reminds me of a slower but stronger Daryl Washington, and I see him has a better fit as a 3-4 ILB (he could still fit in as a 4-3 MLB, though).