It’s not yet known whether star New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore will report to mandatory minicamp later this week. The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year has boycotted voluntary programs up to this point in the offseason.
There’s good reason for this. Gilmore, 30, is entering the final year of the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Patriots back in 2017. He’s slated to earn a mere $7 million base salary in 2021 with a whopping $16.24 million cap hit for the Patriots.
This has led to speculation that New England will trade Gilmore. That dates back to the NFL trade deadline last November. Short of the two sides working out a contract extension, the expectation is that Gilmore will be traded ahead of Week 1. That would be magnified should he fail to show up for mandatory camp.
Despite seeing a downtick in production this past season due to injuries and a bout with COVID-19, Gilmore is still a top-end cornerback. Remember, he led the league in passes defended (20) and interceptions (six) back in 2019. There’s talent left in the tank. It will lead to interest from multiple teams on the trade block. Below, we look at four ideal Stephon Gilmore trade scenarios.
Stephon Gilmore trade to the Arizona Cardinals
The loss of franchise stalwart Patrick Peterson to the division rival Minnesota Vikings has left a major void at cornerback in Arizona. The team attempted to rectify that by signing former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. But he simply isn’t the answer opposite Robert Alford. Relying on rookie fourth-round pick Marco Wilson also doesn’t seem to be a good idea with the likes of Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo in the NFC West.
Instead, the always active Steve Keim could look to pull off a blockbuster trade for Gilmore. He would count just north of $7 million against the cap for an acquiring team. Meanwhile, Arizona could save a whopping $15.5 million by trading edge rusher Chandler Jones. He’s said to be on the trade block and might be a redundancy with J.J. Watt now in the desert.
Stephon Gilmore trade to the Dallas Cowboys
Stuck in salary cap hell, Dallas pushed back against adding a veteran cornerback in free agency despite the likes of Malcolm Butler showing interest in joining the organization. For good reason. Jerry Jones and Co. find themselves a mere $5.79 million under the cap at this late point in the offseason.
Financials aside, this is a move the Boys should be willing to make. They yielded 34 passing touchdowns against 10 interceptions for an opposing 100.4 passer rating a season ago. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn simply can’t rely on the likes of rookie Kelvin Joseph to succeed at this stage in his career. If the Cowboys can restructure some contracts to get further under the cap, a trade for Stephon Gilmore makes sense.
Stephon Gilmore trade to the Las Vegas Raiders
Much like the Cowboys, Las Vegas struggled defending the pass a season ago. Jon Gruden’s squad yielded 28 passing touchdowns against a mere 10 interceptions. 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette was absolutely terrible and may not be long in Vegas. Picking up former Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward was a nice offseason move, but the Raiders need more help in the secondary if they are going to elevate their game to playoff contention.
That’s where Gilmore could come into play. He’d start opposite Hayward with youngster Trayvon Mullen moving to the slot. Currently just $4.99 million under the cap, Vegas could save money by moving off someone like backup running back Jalen Richard. A move of that ilk would create just enough cap room to add Stephon Gilmore to the mix.
Stephon Gilmore trade to the Seattle Seahawks
Yet another team that’s in need of help at cornerback, the Seahawks don’t have much wriggle room. The are less than $2 million under the cap right now. However, the losses of Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin in free agency has left a major void in the secondary. Simply put, Seattle’s defense as currently constructed is not good enough to win the NFC West.
General manager John Schneider has proven to be extremely active on the trade block. Acquiring Gilmore would not run contrary to his MO. Restructuring the contracts of Duane Brown and Bobby Wagner would create enough cap room to add Gilmore to the mix.