Patriots were reportedly outbid in trade for a former Defensive Player of the Year

After trading him two years ago, the Patriots were one of two teams looking to trade for Stephon Gilmore earlier this year.
Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys
Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The end of Stephon Gilmore's time in New England was certainly not the best, as an injury ended his 2020 season a few weeks early and pushed back his return to the field the following season. It ultimately led to a battle between the cornerback and the team, allegedly stemming from a disagreement about his readiness to return to the field.

By October of the 2021 season, Gilmore still hadn't been activated from the reserve/physically unable to perform list. As the tension grew between him and the organization, he was traded to the Panthers for a sixth-round draft pick in 2023.

It was a shocking move considering how instrumental he had become for the defense since signing there four years prior, but it wasn't exactly unexpected. Although it seemed clear he wasn't done being productive for the team, the flood of reports regarding the deteriorating relationship between Gilmore and (presumably) GM Bill Belichick made it seem he was likely on his way out at some point.

However, it was a hard blow to the defense, who then had to rely on a young J.C. Jackson to immediately assimilate to being the go-to cornerback and hopefully make up for the absence of the former Defensive Player of the Year.

Fortunately for the Patriots, Jackson was able to record the best season of his career despite the immense pressure to perform well.

Since Gilmore was traded, the secondary has had its ups and downs, with the biggest hit coming this offseason with the announcement of Devin McCourty's retirement. It was a motivating factor in free agency and the draft to find a proper replacement for the New England legend, which played a big part in moving Jalen Mills from a starting cornerback to a starting safety.

Then came the 2023 draft.

Given their position in the first round, there were so many incredible players for the Patriots to choose from. Most assumed they'd go for one of the top offensive linemen since that was one of the weakest units of the team in 2022 or the best receiver of the class. But they wound up choosing the best cornerback in the draft instead, who fell into their lap after trading back to pick 17.

Mostly, it was an applauded decision despite it not being a position needing an upgrade. However, a new report from The Athletic reveals it may not have been Belichick's original plan after all.

Former Patriots reporter Jeff Howe published an article on Sunday where he mentioned the Patriots had actually been interested in bringing back their former star cornerback and pursued a trade with the Colts earlier this year.

Despite their apparent fallout with Gilmore before trading him nearly two years ago, Belichick was said to be outbid by the Dallas Cowboys in his bid to bring the cornerback back to Foxboro.

Other than the obvious reasons this information is interesting, what puts it over the top is the price the Cowboys paid to acquire Gilmore from the Colts, only a fifth-round draft pick. So Belichick offered less than a fifth-rounder?

Considering he was traded for only a sixth-round pick, it's fair to assume that was the offer from the Patriots to get him back. But it also provides some context as to why they may have shifted their focus to Christian Gonzalez in the draft this year since they lost out on regaining one of the most talented cornerbacks in the league.

It also makes you wonder if Belichick regrets moving on from him when he did. Even though the Patriots have done reasonably well in the secondary during those two seasons, Gilmore has clearly not missed a step since playing in Carolina and Indianapolis. He would've been just as productive for the Patriots as before his injury.

Maybe we will see him suit up with the team again in the future since he is an unrestricted free agent next year and has hinted at wanting to return to New England at the end of his career. It would be an excellent way to bring back one of the best free agents Belichick has signed in the last few years.