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Cornerback Phillip Gaines brings versatility to Buffalo Bills defensive backfield

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The oft-injured corner has some traits that head coach Sean McDermott covets

Phillip Gaines has battled injuries throughout much of his four-year NFL career. A third round draft choice of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014, Gaines has not performed quite as well as was expected of him, partially as a result of the injuries he suffered. Two concussions, a torn ACL, and a dislocated elbow have prevented him from realizing the potential many felt he held coming out of Rice.

On March 29th, Gaines signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. The 27-year old signed for the veteran’s minimum, hoping to parlay a one-year deal into a successful season, which could then lead to a larger contract in his age-28 season next year. Gaines is the front-runner for the Bills’ starting slot corner job, but according to head coach Sean McDermott, Gaines has the potential to be much more.

In his press conference prior to minicamp practice on June 14, McDermott praised Gaines for his versatility, noting that he can play both inside and outside due in part to his great length. At six feet tall, Gaines has 31 7/8” arms. For comparison’s sake, Buffalo’s starting slot corner last year, Leonard Johnson, measured 5’10” with 28 3/4” arms. McDermott said that Gaines could be used in either spot depending on the matchup on any given day.

While Gaines’s versatility would seem to cement his spot on the roster, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard McDermott discuss a corner’s ability to play both inside and outside due to his length. Kevon Seymour was discussed as a possible starter at both the outside corner and the nickel corner positions before he was traded to the Carolina Panthers.

McDermott’s praise for Gaines is definitely worth noting. However, the mere fact that the head coach is praising his versatility does not mean he is a lock for the final roster. If he does make the team, expect Gaines to be moved all around the defensive backfield in 2018.