Amidst the Buffalo Bills’ 24-18 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Highmark Stadium on Thursday evening, a surprising development emerged as cornerback Kaiir Elam, the 23rd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, found himself on the inactive list despite being healthy. In his place, the Bills opted for 35-year-old cornerback Josh Norman, recently added to the practice squad.
This unexpected decision to bench Elam, a former first-round pick in his second NFL season, raised some serious concerns. The situation took a more troubling turn after the game when Bills’ coach Sean McDermott delivered a less than reassuring update on Elam, stating, “We want the players, at this point, and we feel like every decision we make is who can help us win. We wanted to see what Josh (Norman) could do there.”
This statement from McDermott leaves little room for interpretation. Elam had been losing favor in Buffalo even before Thursday’s game. Although he had a relatively decent rookie season, Elam had faced difficulties since returning from an injury this season. Notably, he didn’t take a single snap on the defensive side during the Bills’ loss to the New England Patriots last Sunday, only contributing on special teams.
Going back even further, being surpassed on the depth chart by fellow 2022 draftee Christian Benford, who was selected more than 160 picks after Elam, indicated a shift in the winds. With the trade deadline looming just around the corner, Elam’s future in Buffalo appears uncertain. Even if he remains with the team, he will have to prove himself to earn his way back into the lineup.