When the Buffalo Bills inked veteran cornerback Vontae Davis to a one-year contract this offseason, most presumed that he would be the starting corner opposite Tre’Davious White. When the Bills followed that move by adding Phillip Gaines, also signing him to a one-year contract, and drafting Taron Johnson, most assumed that those two players would compete for the top gig as Buffalo’s slot corner.
Now, it seems that head coach Sean McDermott has added an additional wrinkle to the competition. On Monday, he said that the coaching staff is “still working through” the competition between Davis and Gaines for the starting outside corner job.
Davis’ one-year contract worth $5 million dollars for this season. His cap hit ($4,312,500) is the ninth-highest on the bills’ current roster. In contrast, Gaines’ one-year deal is worth $880,000 this offseason. Thanks to the veteran’s minimum exception, Gaines only counts for $720,000 this year.
McDermott has praised Gaines for his ability to play both inside and outside corner, and Gaines has been used in both roles thus far in Buffalo. Davis is exclusively an outside corner, and he has struggled at times, but especially against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he allowed a long touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to John Ross in the first quarter.
While having both players is most beneficial to the team, it will be interesting to see what comes of this competition. Davis is making an awful lot of money to be a backup, and at this point in his career, it’s unlikely that he would be content with the role. However, if Gaines is the superior player, than the coaching staff has to play him, regardless of finances or feelings. Either way, there is at least one more positional battle still up for grabs heading into Buffalo’s week one showdown against the Baltimore Ravens.