The NFL trade deadline is upon us once again. In just a few days, the market will officially close and teams will no longer be buyers or sellers. For a contender like the Kansas City Chiefs, it means the window to improve the team via trade is only open for another short stretch—until October 31 at 3:00 p.m. C.T., to be specific.
With the annual trade deadline comes an annual swirl of rumors about which teams might vie for which players, and typically it's all smoke and mirrors about long-shot deals that have very little chance of actually taking place.
While the Chiefs have proven an ability to make a blockbuster deal or two since Brett Veach took over as general manager (e.g. Orlando Brown Jr., Frank Clark), the truth is that he'll likely stick to something smaller if the Chiefs are going to make any deal at all. Here's a look at six likely trade targets and what the Chiefs might see in each.
Yes, yes, we know cornerback is not exactly a great need here. L'Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie are the pillars. Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams are capable starters themselves. Nic Jones hardly gets any playing time as it is, and there's certainly no room (or real need) for anyone else. Plus everyone we've already listed is still on a rookie deal.
What's important to note is that the idea of trading for Kaiir Elam would not be about need for the Chiefs. It would be about opportunity.
It was only 18 months ago that the Chiefs traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft with the New England Patriots to grab the No. 21 overall selection. At the time, they had their eye on the cornerback position, and general manager Brett Veach himself said they moved up knowing one of their favorites would likely be there. When McDuffie was still there, they pulled the trigger.
No one can know for certain who that other cornerback was (or maybe there was even more than 1 other), but the safest bet is Kaiir Elam. Elam was the only highly-acclaimed cornerback left at that point, and the Buffalo Bills traded up to get him just two picks later. What's made this interesting is that the Bills looked shocked when the Chiefs leaped them and took McDuffie.
Here's the thing: Elam has been a complete bust in Buffalo. Last week he was a healthy scratch for veteran cornerback Josh Norman who was signed and inserted onto the active roster. After the game, head coach Sean McDermott threw Elam under the bus saying, "We feel like every decision we make is who can help us win." The unsaid part being that Elam will not help them do that.
For a first-round corner not even halfway through his second season, that's quite startling. However, it should be noted that Elam was always a raw prospect coming into the league who excelled as a press corner in man coverage at Florida. In Buffalo, he's done nothing but struggle in McDermott's zone demands. To this point, he's not playing when active and now he's inactive.
Back to the Chiefs. If they liked Elam as a first-round pick just a year-and-a-half ago, would it make sense to explore a trade? That feels like a realistic call to make.