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5 ideal Stephon Gilmore landing spots after his release

Andrew Buller-Russ

With the shocking news of the New England Patriots releasing their two-time All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the veteran defender will have no shortage of interested suitors. Though he may still be recovering from his offseason quad surgery that landed him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, Gilmore should be able to get on the field before long.

Gilmore is coming off a down, injury-riddled season in 2020, but in 2019 he was the Defensive Player of the Year. Since he is a vested veteran, Gilmore avoids the waiver system and is free to sign with any team.

Here are five teams who should have a strong interest in signing Gilmore in the next few weeks.

Stephon Gilmore joins the Tom Brady gang in Tampa

stephon gilmore
Jan 20, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime of the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Sherman finally teamed up with Tom Brady, why not make it a trend and sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Join his old pals Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown in packing their bags from New England to Tampa Bay.

The Bucs are in obvious need of improving their secondary and cornerback group in particular after dealing with some early injuries. Sherman is a nice signing, but they would be foolish to ignore a four-time Pro Bowl corner who is much younger and more capable at this point in their careers. Gilmore would immediately be the best cornerback on this Super Bowl squad.

Kansas City Chiefs add Stephon Gilmore to star-studded cast

stephon gilmore
Oct 5, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) is tackled by New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) during the fourth quarter of a NFL game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Currently in last place in the competitive AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs find themselves at 2-2 and in desperate need of defensive improvement. The Chiefs have allowed the second-most points in the NFL through four games. While the uber-talented Patrick Mahomes can help them win a lot of shootouts, they need to do something about their porous defense if they want to be able to compete for another Super Bowl.

Like many teams, the Chiefs have dealt with injuries to corners Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton. Signing Stephon Gilmore would give this 2019 Super Bowl team another impact playmaker in their secondary to pair with Tyrann Mathieu. Gilmore could add much-needed experience to a young cornerback unit in which all of their top players are 25 or younger. It’s a no-brainer.

Buffalo Bills bring back Stephon Gilmore to irk Bill Belichick

stephon gilmore
Oct 30, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) tries to break a tackle by Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) during the second half at New Era Field. The Patriots beat the Bills 41-25. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Through four games, the Buffalo Bills have by far the best defense in the league. Not only have they allowed the least points, they have also allowed the least yards. They’re the top-ranked defense by Sportsnaut.

Back in 2012, the Bills recognized Stephon Gilmore’s talent in the draft by selecting him 10th overall. Gilmore would go on to play five seasons with the team before departing in free agency, only to sign with an AFC East rival in the New England Patriots. It wasn’t necessarily a bad move for Gilmore, as he went on to become the game’s greatest cornerback in the league under Bill Belichick’s tutelage, winning a Super Bowl in the 2018 season.

Now, with the Bills looking like one of the best teams in the league, with designs to play in the Super Bowl themselves, could Gilmore make the move back to Buffalo? The Bills, obviously already have a great defense, but adding Gilmore across from Tre’Davious White would be nasty.

Las Vegas Raiders patch up holes by adding Stephon Gilmore

NFL: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots
Sep 27, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) breaks up a pass intended for Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards (89) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Just in their Week 4 game, the Las Vegas Raiders had three cornerbacks leave the game with an injury. Free agent signee Casey Hayward has played great, but you can’t face up against the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert with one good corner.

The Raiders are off to a 3-1 start, but they’ve been here several times before. Their current cornerback injury concerns could be enough to start sinking their ship. But, Stephon Gilmore just became available. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have shown a tendency to be aggressive before, they shouldn’t hesitate to look into signing Gilmore.

Stephon Gilmore heads home to play for Carolina Panthers

stephon gilmore
Sept. 3, 2011; Charlotte, NC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks cornerback Stephon Gilmore (5) defends East Carolina Pirates wide receiver Lance Lewis (1) during the game at Bank of America Stadium. Gamecocks win 56-37. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers also have a great defense already, but they did recently lose first-round cornerback Jaycee Horn for the year due to a foot injury. They traded for C.J. Henderson, but there’s a reason the talent-hungry Jacksonville Jaguars were willing to part with him so soon, he’s not a finished product.

Stephon Gilmore was born in South Carolina, he played college football for the Gamecocks and still lives there in the offseason. Gilmore also reportedly was hoping to still work something out with the Patriots to keep him in New England long-term. Now, he has to uproot his family to a new location altogether.

Signing with the Panthers may appeal to him the most. It doesn’t hurt that they’re 3-1. Gilmore would also be set up to face Tom Brady twice a year in the NFC South. Ultimately, this is our favorite landing spot for Gilmore.