For most players, their arrival for mandatory workouts doesn’t qualify as news.
Spikes’ absence wasn’t a contract issue (according to sources), but rather his attempt to turn himself into a three-down linebacker. Thus, he opted for the literal definition of voluntary as opposed to the de facto definition embraced by all coaches and most players.
Whether that independent study pays off remains to be seen, as the Patriots mix and match linebackers to situations. But while Spikes’ absence might not have been a political statement, he is in the last year of his deal.
And if he can transform himself into more than a run-down player, he’ll create a more robust market for himself next offseason, when his rookie deal expires.