The Patriots have traded off All-Pro cornerback and 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round pick.
He is the latest cap and/or injury casualty for the Patriots. This after the team announced earlier in the day they were releasing him. The team had until 4 p.m., to pull off a trade and they did just that, even if the deal was of little to no value.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 6, 2021
Per reports, Gilmore wanted to go the Packers, but the Patriots traded him to the Panthers. There’s got to be more to this trade for such little value.
The assumption is that the Packers or any other team vying for his services could’ve summoned up a 2023 sixth-round pick.
But when it comes to old-school Bill Belichick, one may never know why he traded Gilmore to Carolina.
A stunner: Patriots are releasing four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform List after Week 6, source tells ESPN. pic.twitter.com/31H8KQF8hq
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 6, 2021
Gilmore and the Patriots couldn’t agree on a restructured contract, and with the team trading two picks to acquire Baltimore Ravens rookie Shaun Wade in the NFL draft, the writing was on the wall for Gilmore, who posted this on Instagram
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my goodbye to this great fan base. We enjoyed so much success together and you have been an incredible inspiration for my individual achievements.
“Most of all I wanna thank my teammates who lined up next to me every Sunday with one goal in mind. Those moments on and off the field will never be forgotten.”
Gilmore has been on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list thus far this season and is scheduled to return after Week 6, which is two weeks from now. But Belichick’s objective is always to get younger and less expensive on the defensive side of the ball while still being competitive.
The Belichick Way
During the Belichick regime, the New England Patriots have long lived by the motto “The Patriots Way.” Outside of Tom Brady playing there for 20 seasons, this franchise doesn’t hold onto players longer than they should.
For years, they’ve cut bait with players who are due big paydays or seem to be on the decline in some instances. They are also able to identify cheaper players who still have productivity but carry some baggage that most teams don’t want to touch.
This is part of the reason they’ve been so successful. The franchise doesn’t overpay or overextend players beyond their prime years. This has long been a standard they live by.
Gilmore has the fourth-lowest passer rating allowed in the NFL as the nearest defender at 51.3. He just seems to be getting better and his price tag is going up.
NFL GMs hearing Stephon Gilmore is available pic.twitter.com/y6Wwya6xtS
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) October 6, 2021
The team currently sits at 1-3, but very easily could be 3-1, with losses to the Dolphins and Buccaneers by a combined three points. Developing rookie quarterback Mac Jones on the fly has its challenges, but he’s holding. The Pats defense is surrendering just 16.2 points per game thus far, minus their All-Pro lockdown corner.
The team also used a similar exit strategy with NFL Hall of Famer Ty Law, former All-Pro Asante Samuel and Pro Bowl player and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler.
Emergence of JC Jackson:
The trade of Gilmore opens up $5.7 million in cap space, something the organization feels they’ll need to extend their best defensive player in cornerback J.C. Jackson. Jackson has emerged as a top five-caliber defensive back in the league.
Jackson’s reputation as a ballhawking corner didn’t really precede him coming out of Maryland, but in 26 career starts he’s accumulated 19 interceptions and defended 34 passes. This while playing alongside Gilmore, whom teams rarely tested. Jackson is just 25 and much cheaper.
Panthers Are Next For “GillyLock”?
There was no shortage of suitors for a player of Gilmore’s caliber. Being just 30 years old, Gilmore could have pretty much fit into the defensive systems of several title contenders who were looking to add a former DPOY and SB champion at a premium position.
The Chiefs, Buccaneers, Rams, and Packers all could have benefited from Gilmore’s cover skills. They’re also considered championship contenders.
The Panthers swooped in and got him, as they lost their rookie No. 1 cornerback Jaycee Horn to a broken foot in Week 3.
Sometimes you have to get down to come up in the NFL. The Patriots aren’t the perennial Super Bowl contenders they were when Tom Brady was doing his thing in Foxborough. They have to rebuild what “The Patriots Way” is and struggle before they return to the mountaintop. This is the perfect time for Gilmore to split. Players of his caliber and position are in high demand.