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A key player who the Rams lost in free agency is already surprising people on Bucs staff

Greg Gaines was one of the best partners that Aaron Donald ever had, but Rams lost him to the Bucs

NFL: JUL 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Perhaps the most underrated loss of the L.A. Rams 2023 offseason is defensive tackle Greg Gaines. Though the Rams parted ways with Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, Allen Robinson, Leonard Floyd, and A’Shawn Robinson, it could be Gaines who turns out to be the best bargain for his new team.

Signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year, $3.5 million contract that is fully-guaranteed, Gaines has turned head at training camp already. According to Bucs head coach Todd Bowles, Gaines is “a lot quicker” than the team expected.

“Hard worker, very smart player, obviously very tough, a lot quicker than we initially thought,” Bowles said. “He’s got some position flex and I think that’s a positive but Greg has been great since he came in the door. He’s been outstanding.”

The blog Joe Bucs Fan speculated that Gaines may have looked slower on film than he actually is because he played next to Aaron Donald, the fastest DT in the league.

A fourth round pick out of Washington in 2019, Gaines posted 4.5 sacks in 2021 and 4 sacks in 2022, totaling 10 tackles for a loss and 19 QB hits combined in those two seasons. Even if he didn’t always fill up the stat sheet, Gaines played over 1,500 snaps in the past two years and should be able to eat up a lot of playing time for Tampa Bay at a discounted rate. He will be playing alongside former first round pick Vita Vea, another Washington product, and first round rookie Calijah Kancey, who is often compared to Donald because of size and for playing at Pitt.

It’s certainly not the same as playing next to Donald, but maybe it will at least make Gaines look faster and stronger.