Stephon Gilmore Heads Back to Carolina


Nikita Erdmann Morris

The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year gets traded to Carolina. After four memorable years with the Patriots, Stephon Gilmore (cornerback) is going home. The South Carolina native was traded to the Carolina Panthers on October 6th in regards to the 2023 sixth-round pick. This was a surprise at first, but there has been speculation on his release for over a year. Bill Belichick (patriots head coach) has a reputation for moving players in and out to achieve the perfect team. The Ringer said, “They traded him because that’s what Bill Belichick does: When very good players hit their peak and start demanding top money, he looks for opportunities to move on.” Even though Gilmore is 31, he is still performing at an elite level.

Back in December, when the Patriots versed the Dolphins, Gilmore went down with a partially torn quad. He missed the following season’s training camps and preseason. He was put on the “physically unable to perform” list before his trade. There were multiple teams interested in Gilmore. Phil Perry stated, “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.” Due to Gilmore’s popularity, most teams struggled with fitting him into their cap space. Carolina, on the other hand, put up their offer right before Gilmore’s release and they acquired him. The good news is he is said to be cleared on October 24, 2021 in order to play against the New York Giants with his new team.

(All-Pro Reels. (2019b). Stephon Gilmore [Photograph]. Stephon Gilmore.
The Patriots are being criticized for their decision to trade Gilmore. Their defense is formatted to focus on heavy man coverage, which is believed to be the reason why Gilmore was traded. They won’t be affected by the loss of Gilmore because the heavy man relies on team collaboration more than a star player. In receiving the 2023 sixth-round pick, Belichick can mold the rookie into the player he needs on his team. A younger team can be better than having vets. Young players are filled with energy and can play for long periods of time, whereas vets are older and their bodies will start to slow down.

On the Panther’s defense, it’s the same deal; their defense consists of young players looking to make their mark. However, with Gilmore on the team this could lead to tension between him and the rooks. Gilmore is a beast and is projected to be the top player statistically for the defense. Stats are a huge factor that is being questioned. Will the younger players have an opportunity to shine with a monster like Gilmore on the field? Or will they blend in and or get worse due to being in his shadow?