Stephon Gilmore’s injury further indicts Patriots for not trading him

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 13: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 13: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore’s season-ending injury proves the team blew it by refusing to trade him.

Fans in New England held their collective breath when cornerback Stephon Gilmore went down in a heap clutching his leg after sustaining a non-contact injury while in coverage during Sunday’s season-crushing loss to Miami.

The initial update indicated Gilmore avoided a serious injury, but his MRI confirmed that he suffered a partially-torn quad that will require surgery, which he will reportedly undergo this week.

While fans can take solace in the fact that he didn’t suffer any structural knee damage — that was the consensus fear given the injury happened when he went to plant his leg — this news proves that the Patriots’ choice to keep him at the 2020 trade deadline was indeed the wrong one.

The Patriots not parting ways with Gilmore was always going to present problems in the offseason in terms of deciding whether he should remain a key component of their long-term plans on defense or if they should shop him ahead of the 2021 Draft.

Gilmore’s contract is the epitome of convoluted, and this injury will only make the Patriots’ impending decision more difficult. Despite the regression in coverage he endured this season, he’s still unequivocally one of the best corners in the NFL and deserves to make more than a $7 million salary next year.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, however, giving Gilmore another raise would only exacerbate his contract dilemma. Due to previous adjustments made to his roster bonus, the perennial All-Pro will account for a bulky $17.1 million cap hit next season.

Assuming that the Patriots don’t want that figure to escalate much higher, it’s extremely possible that Gilmore demands a fresh deal that makes him one of the highest-paid players at his position. Thanks to the aforementioned roster bonus, he was the wealthiest corner in the league this season in terms of base salary, but he’s expected to drop to 22nd in that category in 2021.

It’s widely reported that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year is expected to make a full recovery and be available for training camp at the latest, but handing an aging cornerback — he’ll turn 31 next September — who’s coming off a major leg injury a lucrative extension is pretty much the opposite of what the Patriots stand for. On top of that, other teams may not want to even trade for him until they can see him in action post-injury. There are a lot of problems here.

Had they abbreviated their reported ridiculous asking price at the deadline and dealt him elsewhere, this wouldn’t even be a concern. Now, however, it can be added to the laundry list of other issues that needs to be addressed in the offseason.