Free agent cornerback E.J. Gaines, the starter last season for the Buffalo Bills across from rookie Tre’Davious White, signed with the Cleveland Browns on Friday. Contract details were not immediately available.
The 5’11” Gaines was a fantastic add for the Bills in 2017, proving to be an outstanding fit in head coach Sean McDermott’s zone-heavy scheme. In 11 games, all starts, Gaines totaled 59 tackles, 9 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception. The Bills were 8-3 in games where Gaines played.
In Cleveland, Gaines will reunite with former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who coached him during his first stop as a player with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. As a rookie in 2014, Gaines had his finest (and, not coincidentally, healthiest) season as a professional. He amassed 70 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 15 pass breakups.
Gaines has an extensive injury history, as he missed all of the 2015 with a Lisfranc injury suffered during the preseason. He missed five games in 2016 with a thigh injury before being traded to Buffalo in the 2017 offseason. He missed 5 full games due to a litany of injuries, and was unable to finish a few more, as well.
Gaines signing with Cleveland helps the Bills in terms of the compensatory draft pick formula, but as it stands, the team would need more of their qualifying free agents to sign with other teams before they would be eligible for extra picks.