The Buffalo Bills have seemingly now all but eliminated the need for another cornerback ahead of the 2019 season on Monday.
A familiar face in EJ Gaines has joined the Bills on a one-year deal, the team has since confirmed following numerous reports.
Does he sound familiar? He should.
With that, here’s seven things to remember & know about the new Bills cornerback:
Here’s why you may remember Gaines: He was once on the Bills. The year was 2017, so he’s still fresh in the memory banks. That year, Gaines suited up in the red, white and blue in western New York. His season was productive when he was on the field, too.
In 11 games played, Gaines had 59 total tackles with nine passes defended, three forced fumbles and one interception in his lone season with the Bills. Plus, the team was 8-3 overall in games he appeared in.
In addition, Gaines graded as the NFL’s 13th best cornerback in the NFL that season via the football analytics website Pro Football Focus with an overall grade of 86.6. The year prior in 2016, he graded at 37.0 overall.
He also was part of the Bills’ roster which cracked a 17-season playoff drought. So there’s that, too.
The Bills are bringing back the free agent cornerback on a one-year, $3.6 million deal, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday. The team later announced the signing.
Gaines played last season for Cleveland, seeing action in six games with two starts before ending the year on injured reserve.
In 2017, following a couple seasons with the Rams to start his NFL career, Gaines played in 11 games for the Bills, all of them starts.
It’s the continuation of a busy offseason thus far for the Bills, who have signed center Mitch Morse, receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown and linebacker Maurice Alexander, among others.
Here are other transactions we’re monitoring on Monday:
- The New York Jets announced the re-signing of outside linebacker Brandon Copeland on Monday. Terms were not disclosed.
The re-signing comes on the heels of Copeland turning in a career-best campaign in his first year with the Jets as he he started 10 games and tallied five sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 35 tackles. All of the aforementioned numbers were career-highs for Copeland, who began his career with two seasons with the Detroit Lions.
- The Cincinnati Bengals announced the re-signing of cornerback Darqueze Dennard to a one-year contract on Monday. Rapoport reported the deal is worth $5 million as Dennard preferred a one-season deal over a multi-year contract with a chance at the market next year. A first-round pick by the Bengals in 2014, Dennard started a career-high nine games last season and tallied 68 tackles and six passes defended.
March 25 (UPI) — For the second time in his NFL career, E.J. Gaines is set to line up at cornerback for the Buffalo Bills.
The 27-year-old is heading back to the Bills for a second stint the team announced, returning to the team for which he played in 2017 under then head coach Sean McDermott.
“It made a lot of sense in my head,” Gaines said. “I’m familiar with the coach and the scheme and the defensive game plan and everything so it was a no brainer for me.”
Gaines becomes the second cornerback the team has added this offseason, as the club inked former Houston Texans first-round draft pick Kevin Johnson with a one-year deal earlier in the free agent signing period.
Last season, Gaines played with the Cleveland Browns, starting two games and playing in six before ending the year on injured reserve list with a concussion.
“It’s really been frustrating, but that’s been my main focus this offseason, making sure I can stay healthy through 16 games this year,” Gaines said.
“I really can’t change the past and my injury history, but what I can do is make sure I’m ready and prepared for this year.”
Gaines was a sixth round pick of the St. Louis Rams in the 2014 NFL Draft, and played there until he was acquired by the Bills prior to the 2017 season for wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
That season with the Bills he played in 11 games, putting up 59 tackles, nine pass breakups, three forced fumbles and one interception.
Now back with the Bills, Gaines says he’s excited to head back to Buffalo to play in a place where he had success just two years ago.
“I’ve already talked to guys like Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, just to kind of find out what they’re thinking about this season. They’re just ready to get started like I am,” Gaines said.
“Like I said, it’s great to have those guys still here, who I’ve already worked with, who I’ve already won with. It’s a good thing.”
Orchard Park, N.Y. — Former Buffalo Bills cornerback E.J. Gaines is reportedly returning to the team after one season in Cleveland on a one-year deal.
The contract is reportedly worth one year and $3.6 million, per The Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson.
Gaines played in just six games (two starts) in 2018 with the Browns while dealing with concussion symptoms. He suffered a concussion in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Chargers and when he returned against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 4 he was forced out of action again for the same injury and into the NFL’s concussion protocol.
The Bills also signed veteran cornerback – and former first-round pick out of Wake Forest – Kevin Johnson this offseason after he spent his first four years with the Houston Texans. He too has dealt with concussions and said one of the reasons he signed with Buffalo was for their attention to detail when it comes to player development.
“I had the two concussions back-to-back going into last year and I missed the season for it,” Johnson said. “The sports performance, they have a lot of stuff for the player development with the sports facilities they’re putting together.”
Gaines played 11 games for the Bills in 2017 and finished that season nine pass defenses, one interception and three forced fumbles. He’ll join a cornerbacks room that features starting No. 1 Tre’Davious White, rookie sensation Levi Wallace, slot corner Taron Johnson, Kevin Johnson and Lafayette Pitts.
Gaines has played for the Rams, Bills and Browns in his four-year NFL career.