The Buffalo Bills had one of the NFL's best secondaries last season. Safety Micah Hyde was voted to the Pro Bowl, teammate Jordan Poyer matched Hyde with five interceptions, and cornerback Tre'Davious White finished second in the Associated Press' voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The other cornerback spot was locked down when E.J. Gaines, acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in an August trade involving wide receiver Sammy Watkins, was healthy. But Gaines missed five games with various injuries, forcing veteran journeyman Shareece Wright into the lineup. General manager Brandon Beane noted after the season that the Bills went 8-3 when Gaines started and 1-4 when he did not.
Hyde, Poyer and White all have long-term contracts, but Gaines is to become an unrestricted free agent in March. This month, ESPN's Kevin Seifert ranked Gaines as the No. 45 free agent and eighth-best cornerback available. That might price him higher than what the Bills, who have a somewhat limited salary-cap situation in 2018, can afford.
If the Bills do not expect to retain Gaines, another option is Vontae Davis. The former Indianapolis Colts cornerback made a free-agent visit Thursday to the Bills, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Davis, who turns 30 in May, was released by the Colts in November and spent the rest of the season recovering from core surgery. He was recently cleared to play again, and can be signed at any time.
If the Bills are able to sign Davis, it would signal the end of Gaines' brief tenure in Buffalo. Davis would project as the starter next season opposite White, having started 112 games and made Pro Bowls in 2014 and 2015. That would leave little room for Gaines either on the field or against the salary cap.
There would be questions for the Bills to answer about Davis, including about his health. Davis missed the first three games of last season with a groin injury that seemed to affect his play when he returned to start the next five games. The injury was a point of contention with the Colts, who said Davis was not injured and left him home for a Nov. 5 game at Houston. He was later released and had surgery.
Assuming the Bills agree Davis is ready to return to play, the second question would be his cost. Davis was averaging $9 million per year on a four-year deal that he signed with Indianapolis in 2014. A similar deal could exceed what Gaines, who turns 26 next week, might command on the open market. The Bills would either have to get Davis at a lower price or be confident he can still play at a high level into his 30s.