News broke Wednesday morning that the New England Patriots were going to release star cornerback Stephon Gilmore according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He also reported that they decided to release him because the two sides couldn’t agree on a restructured deal.
New England could have potentially traded Gilmore before 4:00 pm EST before he officially became a free agent. Since the news broke the Green Bay Packers became a favorite to land the veteran cornerback. However, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Carolina Panthers swooped in and traded a 2023 sixth-round pick for Gilmore before the 4:00 pm EST deadline.
The #Panthers traded for Stephon Gilmore, sending a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 6, 2021
This is the third huge trade that new Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has made since taking over. He traded a package of draft picks including a 2022 second-round pick for Sam Darnold. Last week he traded veteran tight end Dan Arnold and a 2022 third-round pick for 2021 ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson and a 2022 fifth-round pick. Now they have traded for their second cornerback in two weeks in Gilmore. Since taking over as general manager Fitterer has made eight trades. ESPN’s Field Yates highlighted the notable players he has acquired and traded away.
Panthers GM Scott Fitterer has already made 8 trades in his first year on the job:
Traded away: QB Teddy Bridgewater, OT Greg Little, LB Denzel Perryman
Traded for: QB Sam Darnold, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB CJ Henderson, DE Darryl Green, K Ryan Santoso.
Wheeling and dealing.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 6, 2021
The Panthers already have one of the best overall defenses in the league and have been one of the best teams at defending against the pass this season. They have given up the second-fewest passing yards per game with an average of 156.6 passing yards per game.
This is a homecoming for the new Panthers cornerback who is from South Carolina and went to college there as well. Buffalo drafted Gilmore with the tenth overall pick in 2012. In 2017 the New England Patriots signed Gilmore to a five-year $65 million deal. Since then he has been one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL. In New England Gilmore was voted to three of his four Pro Bowls and was named First-Team All-Pro in back-to-back seasons in 2018 and 2019. He was tied for the league lead in interceptions (with Anthony Harris and Tre’Davious White) with six interceptions. Gilmore was voted Defensive Player of the Year that season as well. He is the fifth cornerback to win the award since 1981 joining Hall of Famers Rod Woodson (1993), Deion Sanders (1994), and Charles Woodson (2009).
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that Gilmore and the Panthers have agreed to play out the last year and $5.8 million remaining on his contract. Gilmore can be activated from the PUP list and join the team after Week 6.