Former Bills First-Round Pick Named Trade Candidate After Shaky Season

Kaiir Elam

Getty Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2023.

The Buffalo Bills had high hopes for cornerback Kaiir Elam when they traded up to draft in the first round in 2022.

The team at the time had a big hole in the secondary after Tre’Davious White suffered a torn ACL expected to keep him out for much of the coming season, and Elam was seen as a potential starter.

While he did move into a starting role early in his rookie season, Elam has struggled to find a permanent place in the lineup and one analyst now believes he could be a top trade candidate heading into the 2024 season. Anthony DiBona of Pro Football Network identified Elam as the most likely trade candidate on the roster, noting that he has failed to live up to his draft spot.

“The Buffalo Bills selected cornerback Kaiir Elam in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft with the No. 23 overall section. Despite his draft status, Elam has failed to impress Buffalo’s coaching staff, as he has started just eight games in his first two seasons,” DiBona wrote.

“It appears as though the Bills are ready to move in a different direction at cornerback and Elam’s time might be up soon in Buffalo. Another team could be intrigued by Elam’s potential and think a fresh start could help turn his career around.”

Doubts Over Kaiir Elam’s Status

While Bills general manager Brandon Beane has been known to swing late-summer trades for marginal roster candidates,’s Kyle Silagyi believes Elam will not be a trade candidate this year. He wrote that “it’s difficult to imagine the Bills moving on from Elam in the near future due primarily to their lack of depth at cornerback.”

“The defender is currently penciled in as the third corner on Buffalo’s depth chart behind the play-making Rasul Douglas and underrated Christian Benford—given the importance of depth at the position and Buffalo’s recent history of cornerback injuries, the Bills trading their primary depth option does not seem like too feasible a proposition,” Silagyi wrote.

Elam appeared in just three games last season, spending the second half of the season on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury.

The Bills made some major changes in the secondary this offseason, releasing White in a cost-cutting move along with safety Jordan Poyer. Fellow safety Micah Hyde remains a free agent, but has hinted he could return for one more season in Buffalo.

Kaiir Elam Wants to ‘Play Free’ This Season

Elam expressed confidence that he could rebound from the on-field struggles and injury issues that held him back in 2023. He told reporters in May that he is coming into this season with a new mindset and a strong desire to improve.

“My mindset is definitely different,” Elam said, via WGRZ. “Just continue to get better, grow from mistakes, and allow myself to play free.”

Elam added that he believes he will learn from the struggles early in his career.

“I learned to appreciate it because without that, I feel like I wouldn’t have grown into the man I am right now,” Elam said. “It’s a part of life. It’s not going to go your way. I pride myself on staying resilient and continue to challenge myself to learn from previous mistakes and stay confident in myself to go out there and to a good job.”

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