The Buffalo Bills made numerous tough decisions order to whittle their roster down to the 53-man league limit before the season started, but the release of cornerback Alex Austin, their seventh-round pick from the 2023 NFL draft, was one the hardest cuts.
Austin’s release wasn’t due to a lack of talent, but the impressive depth the team already had at cornerback. The Bills hoped to get Austin back on the practice squad, but the Houston Texans quickly snatched the 6-foot-1, 195 -pounder off waivers.
Heading in to Week 6, the situation at cornerback in Buffalo has taken a drastic turn, so when the Texans announced they had waived Austin on Saturday, October 14, Bills Mafia strongly reacted to the news. Fans and analysts urged Bills general manager Brandon Beane to get Austin back.
After losing Tre’Davious White to a season-ending Achille injury in Week 4, starting cornerback Christian Benford missing Week 5 with a shoulder injury, Kaiir Elam failing to step up, and Dane Jackson dealing with a foot injury, trying to bring Austin back to Buffalo makes sense.
The Oregon State alum recorded 141 tackles, one sack, four interceptions, and three fumble recoveries during his four-year college career. In Buffalo’s three preseason games, he recorded nine tackles.
CB Alex Austin was Considered a Steal in the 7th Round
NFL Matchup analyst Greg Cosell couldn’t believe Austin was still available in the seventh round. Cosell said during an appearance on One Bills Live in May, “I watched this guy and I kept thinking to myself, ‘What’s the difference between this guy and a guy taken in the fourth round?”
While his 4.55 time in the 40-yard dash might’ve turned people off, “He doesn’t play like that,” Cosell said. “He plays fast… He’s got size, he’s got length, good movement.
“I thought he played zone really, really well which… not a lot a lot of college corners coming to the NFL really understanding zone. I thought he had great awareness of routes. Excellent eye discipline… Now, I’m not suggesting this guy could start at outside corner this year, but I think down the road this guy has starter traits in the NFL.”
Austin told reporters he was “extremely blessed” to join the Bills roster and was “excited” to join a team loaded with veterans like fellow Oregon State alum, All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer.
“He’s a Beaver legend,” Austin said of Poyer. “I’m excited to be able to get up there and work with him, be beside him and be able to learn some things from him. I know he’s been in the league for a very long time and he’s a veteran, so I look forward to just taking on the little bro role and getting to learn and soak up as much knowledge as I can from him.”
CB Kaiir Elam Faces a Make or Break in Week 6 vs New York Giants
While replacing a player like White is impossible. the Bills should’ve been set at the position with Elam, their first-round pick from the 2022 NFL, waiting in the wings.
Elam got a chance to start in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5 after being a healthy scratch throughout the first four weeks, however, he struggled so much that head coach Sean McDermott benched him midway through the fourth quarter.
Ja’Marcus Ingram, a former undrafted free agent out of Buffalo, who was elevated from the practice squad on Sunday, took over his role for the remainder of the game. With Jackson likely out, Ingram was again elevated for the Bills matchup against the New York Giants in Week 6, which doesn’t bode well for Elam.
However, The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia believes Elam will get ample playing time against the Giants, a team the Bills are 14-point favorites to defeat, as a “glow up game” to boost his possible trade value.
“This Giants game represents an opportunity for Elam to get his confidence back against an opponent that lacks an overwhelming outside receiver, in an offense that may not push the ball down the field all that often due to their risk-averse backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor being in the lineup.
“Elam will be in a position for success, and they need him to have that as their top depth option moving forward. Jackson likely won’t be in any jeopardy of Elam stealing the starting job, but this game could go a long way for Elam — and even for the Bills if they wanted to flip him for an upgrade at the trade deadline.”