The Cleveland Browns have aggressively improved their secondary this offseason and trading for former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore is a potential move that could help put the unit over the top.
Gilmore is heading into the final year of his contract and has been a consistent figure in trade rumors this offseason.
“Most GMs have considered it a foregone conclusion that the Patriots would trade top corner Stephon Gilmore this offseason and I haven’t heard anything about a contract extension, so a trade still seems like an eventuality,” Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported earlier this offseason.
The 30-year-old cornerback will count $15.8 million against the cap next season and is coming off a mediocre year — at least by his standards at least. After being named the DPOY in 2019, Gilmore recorded just one interception, one forced fumble, and three passes defensed for the Patriots in 2020, playing in just 11 games — which tied a career-low for the South Carolina product.
Browns ‘True Trade Partner’ for Gilmore
The Browns have added some nice names to their secondary this offseason via free agency in slot cornerback Troy Hill and safety John Johnson III. However, there are some questions about the health of third-year cornerback Greedy Williams, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.
As a recent article from Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report points out, the Browns are a sensible dancing partner for the Patriots to get a deal done if they do indeed look to trade Gilmore.
“The Browns have the cap flexibility to fit Gilmore’s deal on the payroll along with nine picks in the 2021 draft, including an extra pick on Day 2.
Package that spare third-rounder with another middle-round pick in 2021 or 2022, and it’s a deal that makes considerable sense for both teams.”
Gilmore would be a huge addition playing opposite of Denzel Ward, who is a Pro Bowl-caliber cover-man when healthy. And there’s no problem with having depth at the cornerback position, which has been needed in recent seasons for the Browns, with both Ward and Williams missing time.
Gilmore: Future With Patriots ‘Out of My Control’
Gilmore is getting paid a base salary of just $7 million next season — far below the going rate for a player of his caliber.
“He’s not playing for $7 million. And they don’t expect him to play for $7 million,” Mike Giardi of NFL Network said. “That’s just not how it’s going to work for a guy who was, two years ago, the Defensive Player of the Year.”
The Patriots were big spenders in free agency and a lucrative, long-term extension might not be in the cards for Gilmore. He’s trying not to stress about the situation.
“That stuff will play out as it will,” Gilmore said, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. “I just try to take it day by day, and that’s all I can do.
“It’s out of my control,” he added. “I’m just happy to be a Patriot right now, and see how it goes.”