Reunion With Patriots Is Possible for Former Defensive Player of the Year

Stephon Gilmore

Getty Images Stephon Gilmore

As the New England Patriots gear up for the offseason, one position quietly looms as a potential area of concern: cornerback, specifically the boundary cornerback spot following the departure of J.C. Jackson. While not as glaring a need as quarterback, tackle, or receiver, the Patriots could fill that void with a familiar face.

The Patriots cannot afford another season of makeshift solutions at cornerback. One potential solution lies in the return of former Patriot and defensive player of the year, Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore could serve as a stabilizing force in the secondary while nurturing the development of promising talents like Christian Gonzalez. The young cornerback has already drawn comparisons to Gilmore, making the veteran’s return all the more enticing.

NBC Sports Boston Patriot Insider Tom E. Curran identified Gilmore as the obvious choice for the Patriots’ new boundary cornerback. “The easiest thing to do? Bring Stephon Gilmore back. Even at 34, he was still an upper-tier player in ’23 for the Cowboys,” Curran said in a March 6 article.

How Realistic is Bringing Back Gilmore?

Financially, the Patriots are well-positioned to accommodate Gilmore’s return, with projections indicating a one-year deal in the range of $7 million. Such a move would shore up the cornerback position and provide invaluable mentorship to the team’s young defensive backs.

Gilmore’s recent stint with the Dallas Cowboys showcased his adaptability and reliability, even in an unforeseen role as the team’s No. 2 cornerback following an injury to the Cowboys top CB, Trevon Diggs. However, Gilmore’s impressive tenure in Dallas may have priced him out of the Cowboys’ plans, paving the way for a potential reunion with the Patriots.

The Athletic’s Jeff Howe indicated that the Patriots were actively trying to trade for Gilmore before the start of the 2023 season when the Colts ultimately shipped Gilmore to Dallas. Gilmore was also very open to an extension with the Patriots before the 2021 season, so there has seemingly always been a mutual attraction between the two sides.

Other Impact Veterans Come With a High Price Tag at CB

Initially, L’Jarius Sneed emerged as a viable option to complement Christian Gonzalez, possibly forming a formidable duo. Patriots Nation was buzzing at the thought of adding the two-time Super Bowl champ. However, hopes of acquiring Sneed were dashed when the Kansas City Chiefs placed the franchise tag on him. Despite reports of the Patriots inquiring about a trade, it appears the pursuit was more of a formality, given the steep asking price that would include surrendering a valuable top-50 draft pick. Consequently, the Patriots must pivot their attention elsewhere.

With Sneed out of the equation, Gilmore presents a unique combination of familiarity, talent, and leadership that could bolster the Patriots secondary. His potential return to New England represents a strategic move to address a positional need and avoid the constant patchwork necessary at the position in 2023.

Evaluating the Current Patriots Secondary

The spotlight now shines on Christian Gonzalez, who is expected to assume the mantle of the team’s primary boundary cornerback. Meanwhile, Jonathan Jones could either remain outside or shift back to the slot, with Myles Bryant‘s impending free agency adding another layer of uncertainty to the mix. Should Jones return to his slot duties, the Patriots must find a new starting boundary cornerback or perhaps even depth at the position.

The Patriots have a pool of young players vying for the second or third boundary cornerback position. Among them are Alex Austin, Shaun Wade, Marco Wilson, and Isaiah Bolden, each with potential upside. While these young players offer promise, the Patriots may opt for a more prudent approach by bolstering the cornerback position with a seasoned veteran.

As the offseason unfolds, the Patriots face a critical but somewhat underappreciated decision at cornerback. While several options are on the table, the allure of bringing back a proven playmaker like Gilmore could prove too enticing to ignore, as New England aims to fortify its defense and reclaim its status as a perennial contender.