The Bills lost another free agent this offseason, as cornerback E.J. Gaines signed with the Cleveland Browns today.
The #Browns signed free agent CB EJ Gaines to a 1-year deal worth $4M, source said. He can earn up to $5M with incentives.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2018
Gaines played just one season with the Bills but quickly became a fan favorite, as there was a significant drop-off at the cornerback position when he wasn’t on the field. Gaines was acquired during the preseason last year as part of the trade that sent Sammy Watkins to the Rams.
Gaines has played in Browns Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams’s defense while in St. Louis, and in that final season he struggled. In 2016, Gaines was targeted 72 times, allowing 54 receptions for 648 yards, 9 touchdowns with 0 interceptions, but did manage to get five pass deflections.
Very good zone eyes and spacing of the route concepts
After that down year with the Rams, E.J. bounced back in a big way with the Bills in 2017.
In 2017, he was targeted 61 times, allowing 39 receptions for 311 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and six pass deflections.
Interception vs. the Eagles soon after being traded
He was rated as the 13th-best cornerback with an 86.6 overall grade and an 86.2 coverage grade, according to Pro Football Focus. He is a corner that excels in off zone or pattern matching coverage. The Bills played a ton of quarters coverage, and he flourished. He has an uncanny ability to space route combinations well when in zone and shows very good zone eyes and discipline to not allow the big play. He is also a fierce tackler, but his tackling technique is bad and has led to injury before.
This is a very good signing as long as Gaines remains healthy. He has only appeared in 37 games over the course of four seasons in the NFL.