Outside of perhaps the San Francisco 49ers, it appears that the New England Patriots are a true wildcard heading into the 2021 NFL Draft in less than 48 hours.
Recent rumors suggest that New England is looking to get into the top 10 for a quarterback to finally replace Tom Brady over the long-term. Given head coach Bill Belichick’s aversion to actually moving up in the draft, this would seem to run contrary to what he’s done in the past.
Perhaps, a player or two could be used to gain the necessary draft capital for the Patriots to move up. According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, that could include 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.
It’s in no way a secret that the Patriots have been looking to move off Gilmore and his large 2021 cap figure all offseason. The veteran cornerback is slated to count a whopping $16.24 million against the cap in 2021 — the final year of his current contract.
As Russini notes, teams within the top 10 have indicated that they’ve discussed a possible trade for Gilmore with the New England Patriots. The unfortunate reality is that he’s unlikely to move the needle too much as it relates to a trade up from the 15th overall selection into the top-10. The former Buffalo Bills first-round pick is 30 years old and saw some major regression a season ago.
Potential New England Patriots trade-up scenarios with Stephon Gilmore
Despite the factors mentioned above, there’s a chance that a team selecting in the top 10 might view Gilmore as a decent piece in a potential blockbuster trade.
As for the Patriots, they’ve had discussions about a trade with the Carolina Panthers about the eighth pick. The idea would be to select Justin Fields from Ohio State. Perhaps, New England could entice a cornerback-needy team in the Panthers to pick up Gilmore as well as draft assets for the eighth selection.
Picking seventh overall, it’s not a secret that new Lions head coach Dan Campbell needs help on the defensive side of the ball. Detroit yielded north of 32 points per game in 2020, the highest figure in the NFL. It also gave up a whopping 38 passing touchdowns against seven interceptions. These remain the two-likeliest scenarios within the top 10 if the New England Patriots are going to use Gilmore as a chip in a trade-up scenario.
Other Stephon Gilmore trade scenarios
- San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco needs help at cornerback with Richard Sherman likely to depart in free agency. Meanwhile, the Patriots have been linked to former Tom Brady backup Jimmy Garoppolo. With the 49ers slated to go quarterback at three, there’s a chance they move off him. This scenario would include New England sending its second-round pick and Gilmore to the 49ers for Garoppolo. It would be a cheaper alternative to trading up for a quarterback.
- New Orleans Saints: Head coach Sean Payton has made no bones about it. The Saints must add a starter-caliber cornerback ahead of Week 1. Potentially making a move for Gilmore while yielding New Orleans second-round pick (60th overall) could make sense. In turn, New England would use that selection in a trade-up scenario for a quarterback.
- Kansas City Chiefs: The two-time defending AFC champs have not been afraid to pull off that blockbuster move in recent years. Their trade for Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. added another layer to this. Now without a first-round pick stemming from said trade, Kansas City still needs help at cornerback. Trading one of its two second-round picks for Gilmore would fall in line with general manager Brett Veach’s MO in recent years.