The New England Patriots traded the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick Wednesday. Not ideal, right?
But there's more than meets the eye regarding Stephon Gilmore's New England exit, says Patriots Insider Phil Perry.
Perry reported Wednesday that the Patriots attempted to trade the star cornerback earlier in the week before dealing him to the Carolina Panthers for that sixth-rounder. On an emergency edition of his "Next Pats Podcast," Perry shared what was told about why New England couldn't find a trade partner for Gilmore before Wednesday.
"There were a few barriers to a deal getting done prior to ... Wednesday afternoon," Perry said. "No. 1 was the fact that he was a 31-year-old cornerback coming off of injury. He hadn't practiced, he hadn't played in a game. So for the Patriots to trade him to a team that had not been able to see how his rehab was going, that was a hindrance to the Patriots getting the compensation they were hoping for.
"Maybe you can package those two hurdles into one hurdle: No. 1, some uncertainty in Gilmore's health from teams around the league, and No. 2, the asking price from the Patriots being a little too high for some teams."
Gilmore missed all of training camp and the preseason with a quad injury and began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He's eligible to come off the PUP in Week 7 but hasn't played in a game since Week 14 of the 2020 season.
According to Perry, money also made some teams wary of signing Gilmore, who was making $7 million in base salary on the final year of his deal with New England and carried a $16.3 million cap hit.
"There were also some teams, I'm told, that just didn't have the cap space to be able to acquire the remaining portion of Stephon Gilmore's base salary that had not been paid to him at this point in the season," Perry said. "Additionally, there were teams that were concerned about the fact that Gilmore would just be taking the issues he was dealing with here in New England to another location if he was sent in a trade where he still doesn't have a new contract.
"So, if you're a potential acquiring team and you don't love the asking price the Patriots are looking for, you don't love the fact that you don't know for sure how healthy he is and you don't love the fact that you might be looking at having to pay him a lucrative contract before he event gets on the field or before he even gets on the practice field -- all of those things could be blockades to getting a deal done, and they were, from I understand talking to people around the NFL on Wednesday."
In that context, it makes sense why it was reported Wednesday morning that the Patriots would release Gilmore outright. That allowed teams interested in the four-time Pro Bowler to jump the line and propose a trade to New England before Gilmore's release became official at 4 p.m. ET. The Panthers did just that, giving Gilmore a fresh start and the Patriots some form of compensation for their talented corner.