The Browns have reached an agreement with free agent cornerback E.J. Gaines, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). It’s a one-year deal worth $4MM, while an additional $1MM is available via incentives, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com first reported Cleveland was nearing a deal with Gaines.
After ranking 27th in pass defense DVOA in 2017, Cleveland has overhauled its secondary this offseason. Not only did the Browns trade veteran Jason McCourty to the Patriots in exchange for pennies, but they’ve also signed free agents T.J. Carrie and Terrance Mitchell to multi-year deals. With Gaines in tow, Cleveland will now have a bit of depth in a defensive backfield that also includes Jamar Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
Heading into free agency, PFR ranked Gaines as the fourth-best cornerback on the market and the No. 18 free agent overall. While other corners such as Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, and Aaron Colvin quickly flew off the board, Gaines’ market took longer to develop. He wasn’t exactly wanting for interest, though, as the Jets, Cardinals, and Texans all expressed some level of intrigue in Gaines.
Gaines, 26, appeared in 11 games for the Bills a season ago after being traded as part of the Sammy Watkins deal. During that time, Gaines ranked 12th in Pro Football Focus’ cornerback grades and ninth in Football Outsiders’ success rate. A former sixth-round pick, Gaines has started 37 total games and posted three interceptions during his four-year NFL career.
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