Bills bring in familiar faces in Gaines, Williams

The Associated PressIn this June 12, 2019 file photo, Buffalo Bills cornerback EJ Gaines (26) runs drills during a practice in Orchard Park. The Bills signed Gaines to a one-year deal on Thursday.

ORCHARD PARK — Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane signed two more familiar faces Thursday, bringing back a former Bill and adding yet another former Carolina Panther.

The Bills are giving oft-injured cornerback E.J. Gaines a third opportunity to resume his career and added depth on the offensive line with former Carolina All-Pro Daryl Williams by agreeing to one-year contracts.

This marks the second consecutive offseason Gaines has signed with Buffalo. He then missed all of last season after sustaining a core muscle injury during training camp.

Buffalo first acquired Gaines in a trade that sent receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in the summer of 2017. He started 11 games with the Bills that year, playing alongside rookie Tre’Davious White.

The 28-year-old Gaines is familiar with Buffalo’s defensive system, which hasn’t changed since coach Sean McDermott took over in 2017. His addition provides the Bills depth in their backfield, which now includes veteran Josh Norman.

Gaines has five seasons of NFL experience, including an injury-shortened six-game stint with Cleveland in 2018. Overall, he has four interceptions and four forced fumbles in 48 career games, including 38 starts.

Williams, 27, spent the past five seasons in Carolina, where Beane and McDermott both worked prior to 2017. He was named a second team All-Pro in 2017 before a knee injury cost him most of 2018.

•••

Former Bills star linebacker Mike Stratton, who was a key member of the franchise’s American Football League championship teams in the mid-1960s, has died. He was 78.

The Bills announced Stratton died Wednesday because of heart complications stemming from a recent fall. Stratton was living in his native Tennessee, where he spent his college years playing for the Volunteers.

Stratton was a hard-hitting player who is best known for what became known as “the hit heard around the world.” It happened in the 1964 AFL championship game against San Diego and was played in Buffalo.

With the Bills trailing 7-0, Stratton tackled Chargers running Keith Lincoln so hard, the hit broke the player’s ribs. Buffalo went on to a 20-7 win for its first title.

Chargers coach Sid Gillman was quoted following the game by referring to Stratton's hit as “one of the most beautiful tackles I have ever seen in my life.”

Buffalo followed that up by beating the Chargers 23-0 in the championship game the next year.

Stratton was part of a Bills defense that holds the pro football record of not allowing a touchdown rushing in 17 consecutive games, spanning the 1964-65 seaons.

Selected by Buffalo in the 1962 draft, Stratton spent his first 11 seasons with the Bills. He then ended his career following 1973 season with San Diego.

Stratton was a three-time All-AFL player and earned second-team AFL All-1960s team honors.

Aside from being named to the Bills' 25th and 50th anniversary teams, Stratton was placed on the Bills Wall of Fame in 1994.

Funeral arrangements were not available.

Recommended for you