Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay has said this offseason that the Colts are looking into signing a big-named defensive free agent. The Colts finally followed through with that interest on April 15.
NFL Insider Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports the Indianapolis Colts are signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a two-year deal. Gilmore is signing in Indianapolis two days after visiting the Colts facility.
Media personality Josina Anderson of CBS Sports HQ confirmed the report.
Gilmore is a five-time Pro Bowler and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2019.
NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports the two-year deal is worth $23 million, including $14 million guaranteed.
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Colts Fill Need at Cornerback
One of the first signings the Colts made this offseason was adding cornerback Brandon Facyson on a one-year contract. But Indianapolis still had a need at cornerback because of the departure of veteran Xavier Rhodes in free agency and the Rock Ya-Sin trade.
On March 16, the Colts dealt Ya-Sin to the Las Vegas Raiders for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
That move improved Indianapolis’ pass rush but left a gaping hole in the secondary. Both Rhodes and Ya-Sin each played more than 50% of the team’s defensive snaps last season.
Gilmore fills that hole, as the Colts are now arguably significantly better on the edge and at cornerback than last season. In addition to winning the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year award, Gilmore made first-team All Pro in 2018 and 2019.
He’s also made the Pro Bowl in five of the last six seasons, including each of the last four. Gilmore earned a spot on the Pro Bowl team in 2021 despite only playing in eight games.
In his 10-year NFL career, Gilmore has posted 27 interceptions, 427 combined tackles, including eight tackles for loss, and 116 pass defenses. During 2019, he led the NFL with six interceptions.
The Health of Stephon Gilmore
There’s a reason Gilmore remained on the free agent market for about a month. Signing the 10-year veteran doesn’t come without risk.
NFL Senior Writer Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic reports that in addition to only playing eight games, Gilmore lined up on the field for at least 60% of his team’s defensive snaps during just three contests for the Carolina Panthers in 2021.
During the previous season with the New England Patriots, Gilmore missed multiple games due to COVID-19 and a torn quad. He started 2021 on the PUP list after he sat out training camp due to a contract dispute. The Patriots then traded Gilmore to the Carolina in October.
In eight games, including three starts last season, Gilmore posted two interceptions, two pass defenses and 16 combined tackles.
According to the Pro Football Focus player grades, Gilmore was the eighth-best cornerback in coverage during 2021. He was also one of just three cornerbacks to be depended upon in man-to-man coverage on more than 40% of his snaps.
“When Gilmore was on the field, he looked like his usual self: a man corner capable of providing consistently sticky coverage,” Kapadia wrote in an article published on Feb. 7.
The question now becomes how much will he be on the field for the Colts in 2022.