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Buffalo Bills 2017 trades: cornerback E.J. Gaines was a great addition

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The pending free agent should be the number one priority of free agents this offseason

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Before the start of the 2017 season, the Buffalo Bills made what many fans and media members considers to be a few questionable trades at the time. It seemed they were trading away a good portion of their young talent and the future of this roster for years to come. Kaelin Clay, Jordan Matthews, E.J. Gaines and draft picks were the return for Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby and Kevon Seymour. In the middle of the season, the Bills traded their third-round pick for receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

Matthews played 10 games for the Bills before being placed on season-ending injured reserve. In those 10 games he tallied just 25 catches for 282 yards. Although, like many of the Bills receivers, his numbers were thinned out by a combination of the offense they ran and Tyrod Taylor’s passing ability. Matthews is an unrestricted free agent and his return is questionable.

Clay played in just 4 games for the Bills and was mostly a punt returner. As a receiver he had just one catch for 28 yards. Clay was eventually cut by the Bills late in October.

Benjamin was acquired about 3 minutes before the trade deadline. He played in 6 games and had just 16 catches for 217 yards. Much like Matthews, Benjamin was limited in the offense and by his lack of targets from Taylor, as well as by injury. Benjamin is a number one receiver in the NFL, as he showed with his time in Carolina.

Gaines was by far the most productive in the 11 games that he played for the Bills. The defense is simply better in a big way when he is on the field. When Gaines played, the Bills were 8-3 and when he didn't they were 1-4 and it’s more than a coincidence. He had 48 tackles, 9 passes defended and an interception. His tackling ability on the edge is key to McDermott’s and Frazier’s defense to succeed. Gaines is a free agent this year along with Matthews. Good corners are tough to come by and Gaines will draw interest from other teams that could be willing to pay him what he asks. Brandon Beane should make retaining Gaines a priority among their 18 pending free agents.