ew England Patriots drop the ball with Stephon Gilmore.
The New England Patriots traded Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round selection today, bringing an end to one of the NFL’s longest-running sagas.
Given everything it took to get to this point, the conclusion was a bit of a letdown,
and Patriots supporters should be angry.
Gilmore had been known to be dissatisfied with his contract going into last season,
so the Patriots made a deal with him and offered him a $5 million pay increase so he wouldn’t go on strike.
But all it did was push the problem forward to this season,
and New England’s front staff was unprepared for a possible Gilmore holdout.
Gilmore was ultimately put on the Physically Unable to Perform list,
despite the fact that he had reportedly been completely recovered for quite some time.
This allowed New England a little more time to see if they could work out a new agreement with Gilmore,
but it was ultimately fruitless.
New England now gets just a sixth-round selection in exchange for Gilmore,
which won’t be useful for at least a year and a half.
How did the New England Patriots mess this up so badly?
It’s mind-boggling that the Patriots just released Gilmore for next to nothing less than two seasons after he won Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.
Gilmore wasn’t as good as he was last season, but he’s still a top-10 cornerback when healthy.
The Patriots’ lack of effort in dealing with Gilmore’s issue is ridiculous,
and it has cost them this game. This should have been handled months ago, perhaps even during the summer.
Either give him a new contract or send him to another club.
Not a single item on that list is announcing your intention to release him before selling him for a pittance.
But that’s exactly what the Pats’ front staff did today.
It’s better than releasing him for nothing, but in the NFL, a 2023 sixth-round selection is about the same as a $1 scratch ticket.
You may win once in a while, but trading an All-Pro cornerback for a possible rotation-level NFL player doesn’t seem like a good deal.
If the New England Patriots wanted to trade Gilmore, they should have done it over the summer,
when they could have put together a deal that included Davante Adams or Michael Gallup.
Even a slew of selections would have been preferable. Waiting for Gilmore to budge didn’t work,
and he didn’t give any indication that he was about to alter his mind.
It’s not like the Patriots were in urgent need of Gilmore.
At cornerback, they have a strong core of J.C. Jackson, Jalen Mills, and Jonathan Jones.
Although having Gilmore would certainly help,
this position group has held its own for the most part this season and had their finest game of the season against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past weekend.
Aside from a low-level draught selection, the only thing New England gets is some much-needed salary cap room.
The pay ceiling for New England was almost non-existent, with a total of approximately $54,000. Gilmore’s departure frees up $5.8 million in salary space,
which will be utilized in part to re-sign linebacker Jamie Collins.
That doesn’t alter the fact that the issue could have been dealt with over the summer.
For the first four weeks of the season, the Patriots have been constrained by their low salary space,
and you have to wonder if they would have made a couple of personnel changes if they had the money to do so.
Overall, the New England Patriots handled this issue terribly wrong.
They knew the issue with Gilmore had to be addressed at some time,
but instead of working on it, they simply sat and looked at it until they couldn’t stand it any longer.
Now, the Patriots are bidding farewell to one of the game’s best cornerbacks while getting little to nothing in exchange.
You can’t let a player like Gilmore walk out the door for so little,
and it wouldn’t surprise me if this decision comes back to bite the Patriots in the future.
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