UPDATE: The Carolina Panthers swooped in and orchestrated a trade for Gilmore after the Patriots made word of the pending release public. Good business from Bill Belichick to get an asset here.
The New England Patriots are awfully active on the transaction front for a team that’s playing the consensus worst team in the NFL this weekend.
On Tuesday evening, fans were hit with a batch of news, as Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenu were placed on the COVID-19 list. Barring something truly unforeseen, both offensive linemen will miss Sunday’s game vs Houston.
Shortly thereafter, news broke that the Patriots were nearing a deal with former linebacker Jamie Collins, who was released by Detroit last week.
We’re still awaiting confirmation on an agreement, but it seems to be in its final stages.
Amazingly enough, the Patriots were back at it on Wednesday morning, though this latest move is far more earth-shattering.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New England released Stephon Gilmore.
The Patriots shockingly released cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
We’re just as surprised as you, and virtually every football fan on the planet. Why would the Patriots release their de facto No. 1 cornerback two games before he was eligible to come off injured reserve?
Like most cutthroat moves under Bill Belichick’s tutelage, it largely came down to money. Before the move, the Patriots were nearly $55,000 under the cap. By releasing Gilmore, they salvaged an additional $5.8 million. Since the two-time All-Pro was in the final year of his deal, he isn’t owed any more cash.
Of course, Gilmore and New England failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension during the offseason. There was speculation that Gilmore would accept another raise — similar to the route he took before the 2020 season — but it’s clear that both sides couldn’t find a middle ground.
So much so, in fact, that the Patriots reportedly tried to trade Gilmore before releasing him, per Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus.
Gilmore’s $7 million base salary for 2021 was about half (more in some cases) of what cornerbacks of his prestige are making. As a result, he sat out mandatory minicamp and was hit with a $94,000 fine.
The 31-year-old reported to training camp in good spirits, but his contract was always going to determine if he would continue playing for the franchise.
Gilmore is free to sign with another team as of 4 p.m. EST on Wednesday, and he should have countless teams vying for his services. He’ll likely prefer to sign for a contender, but that shouldn’t curtail is market. If you take a look around the NFL, there are plenty of playoff-bound squads in need of help in the secondary.