The NFL is no stranger to shocking mid-season transactions. However, there have been a lot more than we expected through four weeks, and they’ve all happened in the span of a week.
First, the Lions released Jamie Collins, who’s since ironically reached a deal to return to the Patriots for the third time in his career. Fast forward to Tuesday night, and the Cowboys swallowed $16.6 million in dead cap to cut Jaylon Smith.
While equally seismic in their own rights, those moves paled in comparison on the shock scale to New England’s release-turned-trade of Stephon Gilmore, which came in one fell swoop on Wednesday morning.
Effective at 4 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Gilmore was nearly free to sign with another team…until Trader Bill parlayed the breaking news into a deal with the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
Gilmore, who’s eligible to come off injured reserve after Week 6, might thrive in his new home, but nearly had the pick of the litter, if not for our head coach’s savviness. Let’s highlight some potential landing spots that would’ve served as a real gut punch to Patriots fans.
Patriots: 4 Stephon Gilmore destinations that would’ve hurt the most
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Come on, Patriots fans. You knew the Buccaneers would feature on this list, and when reports said they were expected to show interest in Gilmore, your heart definitely went sideways. Their secondary is absolutely decimated by injuries, as Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean are all currently on the shelf.
Tampa Bay is so desperate for cornerback help that they signed Richard Sherman, who seemed unlikely to play in the NFL this season after he was arrested on suspicion of burglary domestic violence back in July. He was signed last Wednesday and wound up playing 98% of the snaps vs the Patriots just four days later.
You also have to consider the Tom Brady effect. As evidenced by him convincing Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement, the 44-year-old is a master recruiter and you have to think he quickly sent Gilmore, his former teammate, a couple of text messages asking him to pursue a ring with the Bucs.
Somehow, he didn’t end up in TB, and went to a division rival instead. Oops! Pain averted.