Bills training camp is a long way away, but you can already put down cornerback on the list of position battles to watch.
The Bills signed CB E.J. Gaines on Monday, bringing back a player who started on Sean McDermott's defense in 2017. Gaines is expected to make a push for the second cornerback job opposite Tre'Davious White.
Levi Wallace had a strong finish to his rookie season and is theoretically the incumbent CB2, but Kevin Johnson will compete for a starting spot as well. Johnson, a former first-round pick who battled injuries throughout his first four seasons, was signed earlier this offseason.
"At the end of the day, Levi ended the year in that spot and he did a solid job, but we're not handing jobs out," GM Brandon Beane said. "It's an open competition with all these guys and, listen, we still have the draft. We could add someone there to throw in the mix. But we feel like we've got some competent guys that have shown they can do it and I think competition is the best for everybody.”
Gaines earned an 80.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2017, including an 80.6 in coverage and a 70.3 in tackling. He started at right cornerback when healthy while White played left cornerback as a rookie, though White played both sides of the field last season, often traveling with the opponent’s top receiver. Gaines spent last year with the Browns but was limited by concussions.
Beane: "I’m still looking for ways for us to add more competition": Speaking Monday at the NFL meetings in Arizona, Beane came off as eager to keep improving his roster. But check out this quote: "Again, I say it all the time, we have conversations, this is a great spot for trades to happen," Beane said. "I'm not saying there's anything brewing, there's not. But if a GM approached us now that there's a guy that we thought, ‘Hey, trade this to get this player that we think is an upgrade or an added competition,’ we would still look to make that move. So I feel better, but I still think we have a ways to go." The second half of this quote gives Beane some cover, but stating that the meetings are "a great spot for trades to happen" feels very much like Beane is encouraging other GMs to shoot him a text. A trade up to No. 2 for defensive end Nick Bosa would certainly be fun, but a trade down that acquires more assets would be much more Process-y.
Andy Dalton to receive Call to Courage Award in Buffalo May 18: Colts coach and former Bills quarterback Frank Reich gives this award annually to a current NFL player who has exemplified outstanding character, commitment and leadership on the field and in the community. Tickets are available to the public.
Ansah update: The Bills and other teams hosted free agent DE Ziggy Ansah this offseason, but he remains unsigned. NFL Network reported Monday that Ansah's four-month checkup following shoulder surgery is coming in mid-April, and that should give teams a better idea of how soon Ansah will be 100 percent.
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