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Buffalo Bills' Brandon Spikes sounds likely to test free agent market

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From the sounds of it, linebacker Brandon Spikes won't be back with the Buffalo Bills unless he's willing to accept a two-down role.

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The Buffalo Bills are switching defensive schemes under new head coach Rex Ryan, and with three young linebackers (Kiko Alonso, Preston Brown, and Nigel Bradham) projected to be ahead of him on the depth chart, it's long been expected that veteran Brandon Spikes will depart in free agency after one year with the Bills.

Speaking from the 2015 NFL Combine on Thursday, Bills GM Doug Whaley called Spikes one of his favorite players, but also admitted that Spikes may try to seek out a bigger role for himself on the open market.

"It’s going to be interesting. I just talked to him today and the new staff sees a different role than maybe he does," Whaley said Thursday (via Syracuse.com). "I told him, ‘Go out there and see if you can get a team to see you the way you see yourself. If not, then come back and we can talk.’"

That comment, made to Western New York media, echoed what he'd said earlier in the afternoon in an appearance on The John Murphy Show.

"Brandon’s one of my favorite players," Whaley said. "We’re going to reach out to his representation, and see how he’s going to be able to fit in this new defensive scheme - and because of the depth we have, if it will fit what he sees himself as a player. So that one’s going to be more of ‘Hey, do you want to come back and be a one, two-down player? Or do you want to try to go out there and see if you can do an every-down player?’ That one’s going to be, see what fits for him, as well as us."

In his one season with the Bills, Spikes played less than 50 percent of snaps, but still graded out - as has been his custom since entering the league with New England - as one of the best run-stopping linebackers in the NFL.