Buffalo Bills: What do they gain by bringing back Gaines for the third time?
By Scott Bryk
What exactly do the Buffalo Bills gain by bringing back cornerback E.J. Gaines?
Subjectively, referencing this 2020 offseason, I could make claims like Rex Ryan did several years ago, postulating the Buffalo Bills won the offseason.
Objectively, I could only say that Brandon Beane has made bounteous additions to the Bills this offseason.
Subjectively, I could claim they are still not done making moves building on an already good team.
Objectively, I could only state that they will make additions by means of the NFL draft.
Subjectively, I could say that signing E.J. Gaines was paramount because the Bills were a better team for those 11 games he played for us in the first year of the process, then they were when he was sidelined.
Objectively, I could say he has never played 16 games in a season throughout his career.
Does E.J. Gaines have a history of injuries? Sure, he does.
Gaines played 15 games as a rookie with the Rams. He missed his entire second season in the league. He was out for five games in his third season. So, in three seasons with the Rams he missed 22 games. I would not be offended if you check my arithmetic. I had a math tutor in 9th grade. Not being proactive. Totally a reactive one year deal by my parents.
More from BuffaLowDown
- Buffalo Bills were ready to trade back if they couldn’t get Dalton Kincaid
- Grading Buffalo Bills drafting Dalton Kincaid in 2023 NFL Draft
- How the Buffalo Bills can win Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft
- Buffalo Bills having conversations about trading for DeAndre Hopkins
- Buffalo Bills Draft Rumors: Bills linked to this shocking first round target
Gaines originally was acquired by the Buffalo Bills in the trade that sent the now Super Bowl champion Sammy Watkins to the Rams. Yes, they traded away the player that they aggressively pursued in the 2014 draft trading up five spots to select. They traded their first pick that year plus their first and fourth the following year to the Cleveland Browns in order to draft Watkins. Some people would suggest Watkins is injury prone. I digress.
E.J. Gaines came in and started 11 games making a huge impact and fitting in perfect in Leslie Frazier and Sean McDermott’s defense. Unfortunately, he missed five games due to injury. His performance made him a desirable free agent defender. Buffalo was not going to break the bank to resign him.
That could be based on his trending injury history. It clearly was not factoring in our poor experience with another E.J. on the Bills, E.J. Manuel. There, I said it. I may be the only person to even have that correlation enter one’s mind. Math tutors do not fix ridiculous random thoughts. Nor do they teach you to possibly not acknowledge publicly such thoughts. Honesty is a virtue.
Gaines proceeded to sign with the Browns the next season as an unrestricted free agent. He only played six games with Cleveland before being placed on injured reserves ending his time there.
The Bills brought him back last offseason in free agency. He injured his groin during training camp and was released with an injury settlement.
Exiting the time traveling phone booth. Did the Buffalo Bills make a big mistake bringing E.J. Gaines back for yet a third attempt? I tender the question not simply because in his two stints with Buffalo he only played 11 games. I inquire because his entire career is one injury after another. Even the Sabres finally got impatient with the extremely talented Tim Connolly.
The Bills have become the masters of the one-year deals. If they signed him with a major portion of the salary being incentives, very little risk would be at hand. The incentive contract would not even have to be based on games played. If the incentives are games started or actual performance metrics loaded, obviously he will not be collecting on them if he is out due to injuries.
One negative risk that comes to mind is he could end up occupying a roster spot. That spot could result in cutting another player that the Buffalo Bills really could need if Gaines cannot play the full season. No guarantees what players are available to fill holes throughout the season. I trust the process and am all in for low risk, high reward acquisitions.
One would think that the decision will not be made as if it were my fantasy football team. That would be where I take a gamble claiming that he is 28 years old and is “due” to finally play a full season including playoffs. I am confident that if he ends up on the opening day roster, due diligence was executed flawlessly by the front office.