It’s been over a week since the Bills shipped out Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby and ignited a debate about how much they actually expect to win this season. While they didn’t bring back players of the caliber they lost, they did add a couple contributors, including a third-year cornerback who started 15 games as a sixth-round rookie only three years ago. A foot injury held him off the field in 2015, and he dropped off dramatically the next year, but he could be in a position to return to form in 2017.
Name: E.J. Gaines
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 185 lbs.
Draft: Round 6, Pick 188 by the St. Louis Rams (2014)
Financial Situation (per Spotrac): Gaines is in the final season of his four-year rookie contract and counts just under $1.8 million against the cap this year. There is no guaranteed money left on the deal.
2016 Recap: After missing 2015 with a lisfranc injury, Gaines returned to start 10 games for the Rams last year. He didn’t play very well, failing to record an interception while finishing behind all but three qualifying cornerbacks in PFF’s overall ranking last season. He finished with three tackles in the Rams’ Week 5 loss to the Bills.
Positional Outlook: White it’s not entirely clear what Gaines’ role in the defense will be, his roster spot is entirely safe. Whether he starts on the right side or continues to back up Tre’Davious White on the left, he’s one of the top four cornerbacks on the roster.
2017 Offseason: Gaines had been having a nice training camp with the Rams but didn’t have a chance to play in their preseason opener, which came the day after he was sent to the Bills. He played 24 snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles, coming away with an interception off of Matt McGloin early in the third quarterb.
2017 Season Outlook: Again, it’s hard to say exactly what Gaines will be doing this season. He may be a top reserve behind White, he may start on the other side of the field, he may play some nickel cornerback in the slot, or he may do a combination of all those things. It’s safe to say, though, that he’ll be a fairly visible player this year.