It has been a wild week in the NFL with veteran players getting released left and right.
Of course, one man’s trash is often another man’s treasure and the Kansas City Chiefs are in need of some major assistance on the defensive side. Fortunately for the Arrowhead faithful, the veteran cuts have all been defensive playmakers so far.
The first to hit free agency were linebackers Jamie Collins and Jaylon Smith. The Chiefs were linked to both, although it appears Collins will return to his old home with the New England Patriots. Smith is still a strong option for Kansas City.
Speaking of the Pats, they just made a shocking release of their own in a decision to move on from two-time All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. NFL insider Adam Schefter was the first to report.
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Details of Gilmore’s Release
When a player of this magnitude is cut mid-season, the first thing that pops into your head is why? Surely there must be something wrong with him, otherwise, why would New England let him go for free?
Rest assured, this move was based purely on financials. According to senior NFL reporter Albert Breer, “Gilmore’s quad is healthy… He still needs to get into football shape — he hasn’t practiced since late last season — but he should be ready to play soon.”
Schefter also noted that the 31-year old is expected to be feeling “robust,” before detailing the reasons behind his release. “[The] Patriots were roughly $54,000 under the salary cap, needed to clear cap space and now will find themselves with an additional $5.8 million,” he tweeted.
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Chiefs ‘Should’ Target Gilmore
The Chiefs’ defense has been so porous in 2021 that former safety and NFL analyst Ryan Clark predicted the Buffalo Bills would score a record-number of NFL points against them. Versus the pass, they’re currently ranked 27th in the league with injuries mounting.
Cornerbacks Rashad Fenton and Charvarius Ward missed Week 4 with a concussion and a quad issue (respectively). Even if they were healthy though, few defensive backs can match the caliber of Gilmore.
Being that the veteran is expected to latch onto a contender, Kansas City would be an ideal landing spot. NFL insider Field Yates agrees, tweeting: “Any team with a CB need — and there are many — will likely put in a call to at least gauge interest. One that should: the Chiefs.”
General manager Brett Veach has an estimated $2.19 million available in cap space, according to Spotrac. That is taking into account wide receiver Josh Gordon being promoted to the 53-man roster, putting his salary at $770,000.
Will that be enough to sign Gilmore? The superstar corner was set to earn a $7 million base salary in 2021 with an $8.53 million prorated bonus, along with a roster bonus and a $500,000 per game bonus. NFL insider Josina Anderson tweeted that her understanding is that Gilmore “is looking to earn at least $15M a year on the open market now.”
That’s pricey, but the Chiefs could shift some funds around to make it work. Over the Cap founder Jason Fitzgerald explained why a team would need less cap space than you’d think to bring in Gilmore. “If we assume that Gilmore wants $15M, that would prorate out to $10M for the balance of this season. If that is indeed the number you probably would need $2.64M in cap room to make that work (possibly a little less but that is the clean way to come up with a number,” he tweeted.
Veach has been shopping guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and a corresponding trade would provide some cap relief. The franchise could also choose to make some tough choices with a release of their own if they elect to make this a priority — which they should.
No matter the cost, this is an arms race that KC must win. A Gilmore acquisition makes them the immediate Super Bowl favorite, but if he signs with a different championship contender instead — like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Green Bay Packers — their complacency could come back to bite them. The four-time Pro Bowler hits the open market today (Oct. 6) at 4 p.m.
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE:
The Patriots have traded Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round pick, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Being that they found a trade partner before 4 p.m., the cornerback will be dealt, not released. NFL Now discussed the move below.