It’s not uncommon to hear rumors encompassing a disgruntled star as we approach training camp. What is eye-opening, however, is the current circumstances surrounding 2019 Defensive Player of the Year and current New England Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore. It’s an unlikely scenario to hear of anything “negative” or out of the ordinary of daily business in Foxboro, as the machine that is the Patriots continues to rumble on with Bill Belichick at the helm.
Any time a player holds out of team workouts, whether it’s a player on an expiring contract or someone looking for a fresh batch of cash added onto their current deal to stay satisfied, it inherently opens the eyes of many around the facility. And while it doesn’t necessarily spell the end of a long-lasting relationship (like Gilmore’s), when it comes to keeping a soon-to-be 31-year-old corner in town, Belichick may need to pull strings he’s never had to before to keep one of the league’s top cover talents within Foxboro’s friendly confines. If not, one of the NFL’s top defenders could be on the move, and soon.
Over the last couple of seasons, we’ve seen a slew of veteran corners traded, with Jalen Ramsey in 2019 and Marcus Peters the year prior highlighting a group that also included the likes of Darius Slay and A.J. Bouye. As offenses continue to modify and young, target-hungry pass-catchers continue to take the league by storm, a stalwart on the outside and need for elite cover-corners has become a premium asset. It’s why Gilmore believes he deserves more than the $7M he’s currently set to earn in 2021, and rightly so.
With that, let’s dive into three potential landing spots that could make a blockbuster splash for Gilmore, an uber-athletic secondary presence with multiple All-Pro selections.
San Francisco 49ers
The loss of Richard Sherman could prove to be costly if Jason Verrett is unable to stay healthy for a full season, something he’s yet to do in six NFL campaigns. While the cap room is there with roughly $16.7M in flexibility, the 49ers could finally make the offseason splash move everyone has expected them to make after leading the rumors of trading for Aaron Rodgers and entertaining the idea of acquiring Julio Jones. Gilmore’s addition on a now-healthy 49ers defense could boost San Francisco back to the top of the conference.
Before you jump the gun and disregard the potential of Gilmore landing in Dallas, it has Jerry Jones’ fingerprints all over it. A big-name, big-time player? Jones drools over opportunities like this. Gilmore’s addition opposite Trevon Diggs would be taping over broken glass in what was a rather underwhelming attempt at improving an abysmal 2020 defense this spring. Within an improved NFC East where weapons are aplenty in Kenny Golladay, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and DeVonta Smith, Dallas’ offense is going to need some help from the defensive side of the football if the Cowboys eye a path back to the postseason. Gilmore fits the bill and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Jones were to pull the trigger to acquire the four-time Pro Bowler.
This would require a good bit of maneuvering from general manager Chris Ballard, but the Colts are ready to compete now and Ballard has put his money where his mouth is this spring in acquiring Carson Wentz. He envisions success for Indianapolis this fall, and for a defense touting DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard, and first-round selection Kwity Paye, Gilmore’s insertion into an average secondary could ladder the Colts back to their first division title since 2014.
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