Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane had made a habit of pulling off late-summer trades, flipping marginal roster candidates to build up a cache of late-round draft picks.
One insider believes Beane could make a more substantial move this offseason, moving second-year cornerback Kaiir Elam should he fail to make a significant jump in training camp. Though Elam was the team’s top draft pick last year, The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wrote that he could be on shaky ground as competition at cornerback heats up.
Insider Makes Case for Trading Kaiir Elam
The Bills showed plenty of faith in Elam last year, trading up in the first round to land the Florida cornerback and naming him a Week 1 starter while Tre’Davious White continued to rehab his torn ACL.
But as Buscaglia noted, Elam was inconsistent last season and has plenty of competition going into this year as the Bills re-signed Dane Jackson and just added 25-year-old cornerback Cameron Dantzler. With White expected to be back to full health and fellow second-year cornerback Christian Benford also vying for a spot, Elam could end up being expendable, Buscaglia wrote.
While Elam would likely still play a big role this year, Buscaglia noted that Beane could consider making a move now while his value is still high.
“It’s probably a year too early to consider trading a first-round pick like Elam, though there is at least a legitimate argument for doing it this summer rather than waiting until 2024,” Buscaglia wrote, adding that “something is holding the Bills back from Elam being the locked-in starter.”
While Buscaglia concluded that it’s more likely to see Elam back with the team next year, he envisioned a scenario where Beane would pull the trigger on a trade if it brought back enough value.
“Trading him this summer would be a risk in terms of seeing a high pick flourish elsewhere, but if they feel he’s still behind Jackson and Benford and they could recoup a second- or third-round pick for him, it’s something they could consider,” Buscaglia wrote. “The extreme likelihood is they hold on to Elam and see if he can get there in 2023, but it’s at least worth mentioning if the worst-case scenario arrives this summer.”
Kaiir Elam Under Pressure This Season
After an up-and-down rookie season in which he lost playing time to Benford, a sixth-round pick, Elam’s role may be less secure as he moves into his second year. Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski noted that Beane singled Elam out when talking about players the team will need to count on more next season.
Since the Bills used a first-round pick on Elam — and spent even more draft capital trading up to get him — he could face even more pressure, Skurski added.
“The Bills absolutely need Elam to turn into a quality starter,” Skurski wrote. “The same can be said of any player chosen in the first round. It will be true of Dalton Kincaid soon enough. It’s true of defensive end Greg Rousseau, who is entering his third season.”