Free agent Brandon Spikes visiting Bills

Fans have been clamoring for the Buffalo Bills to sign Brandon Spikes.

Well, that might be closer to happening, as Spikes is making a free-agent visit Friday to Buffalo.

The Bills have a glaring need at middle linebacker, with Kiko Alonso moving to the weak side in Jim Schwartz's defensive scheme. The Bills hosted linebackers Jameel McClain and Jasper Brinkley on visits last week but both signed elsewhere. The only in-house options would be Ty Powell or Nigel Bradham, underwhelming in both cases.

Spikes has been a strong run-stopping linebacker for the New England Patriots since being drafted in 2010. His best season came in 2012, when he made 14 starts, recording 92 tackles, five forced fumbles, seven passes defensed and one sack.

He played in 16 games last season but his production dipped slightly. The Patriots began to phase out Spikes on passing downs, as he proved to be a liability in coverage. He was placed on injured reserve in January, partly because he was late to practice.

Spikes was hobbled by a knee injury for most of last season and has dealt with injuries for most of his career.

Spikes, 26, is known for having an off-the-beaten-path personality, with Bill Belichick once calling him an "interesting player to coach" whose "style is ... kind of not by the book but [it's] effective."

Former Patriots defensive coach Pepper Johnson now serves as the Bills' defensive line coach and is known to have a close relationship with Spikes.

The Bills also confirmed that running back Anthony Dixon is making a free-agent visit Friday.