The New England Patriots decided to send Stephon Gilmore packing in 2021 despite the fact that he clearly had a ton of good football left in the tank. After the Carolina native played a half-season for the Panthers, he was back on the free agent market and eyeing a shot at a ring.
Despite the best efforts of Matthew Judon, it looks like the Patriots were never in the running for his services thanks to some friction. What makes Gilmore’s departure really sting, however, is the fact that he joined a potential wild card team in the AFC and made New England’s path to the postseason even more difficult.
Gilmore joined the Indianapolis Colts on a two-year deal, joining a defense that was in dire need of some veterans in the secondary. Gilmore was a Pro Bowler last year despite limited playing time on a bad Panthers team, which further illustrates his quality.
This is bad news for the Patriots, even though Indianapolis might not be in the division. With the fight for one of the three Wild Card spots even more of a dogfight than usual in the AFC, watching a potential contender for one of those spots improve like this could vault them past New England in the power rankings.
Stephon Gilmore joining the Colts is bad for the Patriots.
How many areas are the Patriots truly better than Indianapolis in? Matt Ryan and Jonathan Taylor make up a heck of a 1-2 punch on offense, and the Colts’ offensive line remains one of the best in the game. Maybe the Pats have a better front seven? Even then, Kwity Paye has star potential and Yannick Ngakoue is a stud.
Even if a Gilmore reunion was not going to happen, New England should be fairly disappointed with how they have performed in free agency with regard to replacing him. While New England soldiers on with Terrance Mitchell and a high draft pick, the Colts just kicked their defense into overdrive.
The Colts will also have the benefit of an easy division featuring two rebuilding teams in Jacksonville and Houston. In addition to four games against Miami and Buffalo, New England has to contend with a second-place schedule and a game against these new-look Colts.
The biggest problem with New England’s general inactivity in the offseason isn’t the fact that they aren’t making new additions. It’s the unfortunate reality that all of these big names are joining competitors. While Gilmore and the Colts load up, the Patriots now need to contend with another playoff contender that could unseat them.