Head Coach Sean McDermott outlines the Bills plans for CB ahead of NFL trade deadline…

Is Buffalo Bills Eyeing a Cornerback Before the NFL Trade Deadline?

The Buffalo Bills are facing defensive challenges, a familiar theme for those closely monitoring the team this season. Initially, the Bills had one of the NFL’s most dominant defensive units, but injuries have taken a toll. With three players on season-ending or in-season Injured Reserve (IR), the Bills have had to rely on their depth more than anticipated at all defensive positions.

While linebacker Matt Milano and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones could potentially return later in the season, cornerback Tre’Davious White suffered an Achilles injury requiring season-ending surgery. Consequently, head coach Sean McDermott has had to strategize to field a competent starting duo of outside cornerbacks in the aftermath of White’s injury and to compensate for other defensive back injuries.

Second-year cornerback Christian Benford initially held the CB2 position but moved up to CB1 after White’s injury. Cornerback Dane Jackson assumed the CB2 role following Benford’s shift. Due to injuries to eight different defensive backs, the team was compelled to start second-year cornerback Kaiir Elam, who had fallen out of favor with McDermott despite high expectations. Unfortunately, Elam’s performance did not align well with Buffalo’s defensive strategy. His weaknesses in zone coverage and aggressive playing style made him a liability in terms of penalties.

With the trade deadline less than 24 hours away, many believe the Buffalo Bills are inclined to address their cornerback situation, especially considering the diminishing prospects for Kaiir Elam’s future with the team.

The situation came to a head when 35-year-old cornerback Josh Norman, who had recently joined the practice squad, was activated. Although Norman played primarily on special teams, he demonstrated his ability even at this stage of his career. The concern, however, is that Elam could not secure a starting spot, not even on special teams. Elam’s performances this season have been disappointing, raising questions about his future with the Bills.

If a trade is pursued, there are several intriguing options to consider, with Patrick Surtain II of the Denver Broncos being the most popular name. However, bringing Surtain on board would require considerable effort from general manager Brandon Beane, both in terms of the trade and the financial implications of his addition. Nevertheless, acquiring Surtain would significantly enhance the Bills’ cornerback roster.

However, Beane is likely exploring multiple avenues. Given the surplus of NFL cornerbacks and teams looking to part ways with players who don’t fit their systems due to various reasons, there are alternative options both on and off the field.

One potential trade target for the Bills is veteran cornerback Levi Wallace, who could provide immediate help given his familiarity with Buffalo’s defense. Wallace was drafted by the organization in 2018 and played under defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier until the 2021 NFL season. Wallace was inactive for the Steelers in Week 8, which could make him available for Pittsburgh’s future plans.

Another cornerback generating interest in the Bills is Jaylon Johnson from the Chicago Bears. The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys are also reportedly interested in him. Johnson, a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has performed well in Chicago, boasting impressive Pro Football Focus (PFF) numbers this season, including the lowest allowed passer rating.

The potential cost of acquiring Johnson is uncertain, but given the interest from multiple teams, it is unlikely to come cheap. The Bears must decide whether to seek a package of picks and/or players in a trade or incorporate Johnson into their defensive rebuilding plans.

With the trade deadline approaching, anything can happen. The question remains whether any of these three players could join the Buffalo Bills and contribute to their goals for the 2023 NFL season or whether the opportunity to integrate external talent into the cornerback position has passed. Stay tuned to Buffalo Rumblings for updates leading up to the trade deadline, including official news, reported interest, and the inevitable rumors that spark lively discussions.

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