1. Stephon Gilmore
Stephon Gilmore should be the Patriots’ top trade chip.
It’s tough to trade the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, but when you have a deep secondary like the Pats do, you can handle the loss, go with the guys you have, and free up some cash to pay someone like JC Jackson, who’s going to command more money in the offseason.
Gilmore’s under contract through next season, so teams in need of a top cornerback (who isn’t?) would be even more inclined to talk about a potential trade. At worst, Gilmore should fetch a second-round pick (but probably a first), and we only say that because he hasn’t been top-notch in 2020 and he carries a $17 million cap hit for 2021.
For as good as Gilmore is, Belichick’s defensive scheme continuously succeeds without bonafide stars. There’s no doubt this unit would be able to hold down the fort and remain competitive the rest of the year with Jackson, Jon Jones, Jason McCourty, Devin McCourty, Joejuan Willians, Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger.
This isn’t a knock on Gilmore, it’s just that there’s no need for a player of his caliber and price tag if the Patriots don’t think they can make a deep run in 2020. And there will be a fairly deep cornerback class in free agency this offseason, so if Belichick feels he needs another defensive back, he can easily get one with all of the Patriots’ cap space.
Still, the Pats do most of their heavy lifting through the draft, and a potential big haul for Gilmore would do wonders in getting the franchise back on track for 2021 and beyond.