NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots

The New England Patriots and former All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore parted ways Wednesday and that is expected to create a feeding frenzy on the open market. Gilmore will likely receive more than a few suitable offers and can make a choice based on his priorities. Already a Super Bowl champion, will he take the most money at 31-years-old? Is he drawn to a title contender? Could distance to his hometown in South Carolina play a role? Will it be a combination of factors?

Here are five teams, plus a few honorable mentions, that could catch his eye:

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore suffered a rash of injuries ahead of the 2021 campaign, including cornerback Marcus Peters. Gilmore has been known for his sticky man coverage and the Ravens are in man coverage 38.3% of the time, according to TruMedia. Head coach John Harbaugh has turned to Anthony Averett opposite Marlon Humphrey

The limiting factor could be salary cap space. Baltimore is operating at a deficit, according to the daily adjusted salary cap report from the NFL Players Association. If Gilmore was reluctant to take a pay cut from New England, it is difficult to comprehend that he might take such a steep discount elsewhere relative to the substantial offers he is likely to receive.

Dallas Cowboys 

Dallas is in man coverage 40.9% of the time, according to TruMedia. They have the highest rate in man coverage on this list, plus they have the most salary cap space. Trevon Diggs leads the league with five interceptions in four weeks. Anthony Brown has played relatively well but the idea of adding a talent like Gilmore has to be appealing. Second-round pick Kelvin Joseph has yet to make his professional debut. 

Dallas' offense was highly-regarded coming into the season. The defense, led by new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, has been a revelation relative to last season. 

Kansas City Chiefs

As one would imagine, the offense is outperforming the defense. Kansas City has a lot of bodies at the cornerback position and several have received playing time over the past two years but they are lacking a reliable lock down option. The Chiefs play man coverage 38.8% of the time and have the second most salary cap space on this list. 

A phone call placed by Patrick Mahomes would not hurt the cause. The Chiefs find themselves in uncharted territory at the bottom of the AFC West, but only by one game. The Chargers, Raiders and Broncos all carry a 3-1 record.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints have roughly $2.3 million in salary cap space as well as a need at cornerback opposite Marshon Lattimore. Rookie Paulson Adebo opened the season on a high note but has slipped a bit in recent weeks. New Orleans finds themselves a game out of first place within the NFC South behind Tampa Bay and Carolina. The addition of Gilmore might allow Sean Payton's team to make a run at the division or, at least, a Wild-Card berth.

The defense is in man coverage 38% of the time, according to TruMedia. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay signed veteran Richard Sherman last week after Sean Murphy-Bunting was added to the Injured Reserve; meaning he will miss at least three weeks. Jamel Dean suffered a knee injury against New England that, while not serious, could cause him to miss some time. Ross Cockrell, Carlton Davis III, Dee Delaney and Pierre Desir are the other cornerbacks on the roster. They are in man coverage 16.3% of the time. Tampa Bay has roughly $3.2 million in salary cap space. 

The elephant in the room is Tom Brady. Brady and Gilmore won a Super Bowl together in New England. Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown are among the players to follow the quarterback to the Buccaneers. Could familiarity be a determining factor for the veteran?

Sherman mentioned that the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers had expressed interest before he signed with Tampa Bay. It is not unreasonable to suggest that those teams could have interest in Gilmore as well.

Seattle has the most salary cap space but is not necessarily a good scheme fit. Carolina affords him the opportunity to play close to home on a young, exciting defense. Rookie Jaycee Horn is expected to miss good chunk of the season with an injury. They have more than enough salary cap space to make a run at Gilmore. San Francisco does have a need at the position and salary cap space than any of the five primarily mentioned.