Breer: Pats traded Gilmore to free up cap space to sign Collins


The New England Patriots' decision to part ways with Stephon Gilmore didn't come as a huge surprise given how the offseason transpired. It was, however, a bit perplexing how the deal went down.

Gilmore was traded to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick. The star cornerback had been in the midst of a contract dispute with the Patriots organization that lasted through the summer and into the season.

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Shortly after Gilmore was dealt, the Patriots signed Jamie Collins for the veteran linebacker's third stint with the team. According to The MMQB's Albert Breer, New England got rid of the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year so it would have the salary-cap space to sign Collins.

"That's absolutely why. 100 percent," Breer said Wednesday on NBC Sports Boston's Early Edition. "They needed to create cap space to go and get Jamie Collins. They had plans early in the week to fly him in and they had discussed role with him and everything else, and they needed a corresponding move. So what they did was they picked up the phone and called Stephon Gilmore and they basically discussed the idea of him restructuring (his contract)."


Those talks of a restructured deal didn't go far. When Gilmore declined, the two sides agreed it was time to go their separate ways.

"They want to go sign Jamie Collins, and they go to Steph Gilmore and they say, 'Will you restructure your deal?'" Breer added. "They weren't asking for money back, they just said will you restructure your deal. He said, 'I've been asking for a raise from you for the last year, you haven't done it, so I'm not going to help you unless you help me.' And that sort of left them where they were, they decided it was time to move on from Steph Gilmore on Tuesday."

Gilmore joined the Patriots in 2017 and anchored a New England defense that dominated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. The four-time Pro Bowler suffered a torn quad at the end of the 2020 season but is expected to return for Carolina in Week 7.

As for Collins, the soon-to-be 32-year-old won two Super Bowls with the Patriots and was a Pro Bowler in 2015. He was released by the Detroit Lions last week during his second season with the team.

Check out the full breakdown of the Gilmore trade in the video below: