Monday, November 29

Stephon Gilmore trades grades: Panthers get cheap All-Pro, Patriots get something back



Stephon Gilmore is going home.

The Patriots were able to trade the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday, hours before his scheduled release date. They found a catcher on the Panthers, who announced through its official website they had traded a 2023 sixth-round pick for Gilmore.

Gilmore hails from Rock Hill, SC, and played collegiate in South Carolina, so this represents a homecoming for him. He also joins Carolina cornerback, who had been reduced a bit by Jaycee Horn’s injury.

Sporting News has business ratings for both the Patriots and the Panthers.

MORE: Why the Panthers are one of the best options for Stephon Gilmore

Panthers: A

There’s a lot to like about this move for the Panthers. Carolina has looked like a legitimate playoff team for the first month of the season. The Panthers are 3-1, but playing in a division that features Tom Brady, they needed to add some reinforcements in the secondary.

That became especially true when Jaycee Horn went down. Horn, the No. 8 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, suffered a foot injury in the Panthers’ 24-9 Week 3 win over the Texans and is expected to miss two to three months. The Panthers have decent corner depth and acquired another former top 10 pick, CJ Henderson, to help fill the void left by Horn.

That said, Gilmore is one of the best cornerbacks in the league when healthy, so he will undoubtedly provide an improvement for Carolina’s secondary upon his return. He’s still on the puppy list and will stay there until week 6, but if he’s ready to come back after that, he’ll provide a boost against Donte Jackson.

Gilmore wasn’t an expensive acquisition for the Panthers, either. They’re handing out just one sixth-round pick, and he’s not even in the next draft year. So they are taking most of their service capital. Additionally, the Panthers had the second-most cap space in the NFL at just over $ 19 million, by OverTheCap.com. So acquiring Gilmore’s contract, which carries a base salary of $ 7 million, won’t even take half of that away from him.

The Panthers are in a position to re-sign Gilmore if they wish. They have the resources to extend it and give you a raise. He would be an ideal mentor for Horn as they are similar in size and playing styles and both went to South Carolina.

It will be interesting to see if the Panthers see Gilmore as a short-term or long-term addition. Either way, they aren’t paying much to get a massive upgrade on a defense that’s already third in yards and points allowed. That’s a win for GM Scott Fitterer and coach Matt Rhule.

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Patriots: D

It’s hard to get too fond of this trade from the Patriots’ point of view. They don’t completely fail, as they were at least able to get Some active for Gilmore, but still far from ideal.

Essentially, this trade was that the Patriots chose Jamie Collins over Stephon Gilmore. The team wanted Gilmore to restructure his contract to make room for Collins, but Gilmore didn’t want to do that without something going his way. The Patriots objected to that and decided to get rid of him.

Gilmore is 31 years old and is coming off a quadriceps injury. That deflated his value across the league and partially explains why the Patriots were only able to get a sixth-round pick in exchange for his services.

However, the Patriots could have approached this differently. They could have asked another player to restructure his contract to make room for Collins. That would have given them a chance to play Gilmore, evaluate him and see if he can still play at a high level. If that happened, they could have held him for 2022 (and beyond) or let him into free agency to regain a compensatory pick in 2023.

The Patriots have a deep and talented secondary that features JC Jackson, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones and Shaun Wade, so perhaps they didn’t have room for Gilmore. Still, they probably should have gotten more for him in a trade. After all, the Dolphins traded catcher Jakeem Grant to the Bears for a 2023 sixth-round pick on Tuesday, the same package that Gilmore was traded for. He has been far more successful during his career than Grant.

The only positive for New England is that it did not release Gilmore completely. We’ve seen the Patriots succeed in the sixth round before, so maybe they’ll get another quality player. Still, it’s hard to be overly excited about this deal.

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