The Carolina Panthers have made a huge addition in the secondary. On Wednesday, the Panthers announced that they had traded a 2023 sixth-round pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for star cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reported that the Rock Hill, South Carolina, native had interest in playing close to home, and Carolina was able to swing a deal for the 31-year-old who was the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time first-team All-Pro, a four-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl LIII champion.
It was reported Wednesday morning that the Patriots planned to release Gilmore as they and his camp could not come to terms on a restructured contract. There was always the possibility that he could be traded before the move became official at 4 p.m. ET, however, and that's exactly what happened. This is not the first addition the Panthers have made in the secondary, as they also traded for cornerback C.J. Henderson from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Carolina has suffered a couple of injuries in the secondary, as the Panthers lost first-round pick corner Jaycee Horn to a broken foot and safety Juston Burris to a groin injury.
Gilmore has not played this season, as he tore his quad in Week 15 last year and opened up 2021 on the PUP list. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gilmore is eligible to come off the PUP list after Week 6. GM Scott Fitterer told reporters Wednesday that he expects Gilmore to come off PUP at that point and be ready to play Week 7 vs. the Giants. The Panthers currently have the No. 3 defense in the league in terms of total yards allowed per game, and they are looking to maintain that pace.
Gilmore was originally selected with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of South Carolina by the Buffalo Bills. After five seasons in Buffalo, he signed with the Pats in free agency ahead of the 2017 season. In 124 career games, Gilmore has recorded 114 passes defensed and 25 interceptions. He is entering the final year of his contract, so an extension is something to keep an eye on -- at least down the road. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Gilmore and the Panthers are open to him playing out the final year of his deal at $5.8 million. Joe Person of The Athletic backed this up, saying that this transaction is not a "trade and sign" situation.