The New England Patriots didn’t make a trade at the wire of the NFL Trade Deadline on November 2, but their deal sending former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round pick still qualifies.
It also qualifies, in most folks’ eyes as a net loss for the Patriots. Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr published a set of grades for the deals completed on November 2 and just before. New England was given a big fat “F” for their involvement in the deal. Orr wrote:
This situation felt like it was mismanaged from the beginning, with Gilmore cast away for spare parts shortly after the Patriots-Buccaneers game. In the not-so-recent past, Gilmore was believed to be the single best cornerback in the NFL and in one game with the Panthers so far, albeit in limited snaps, Gilmore allowed just a 50% opposing QB completion percentage and logged a game-sealing interception. While his issues in New England were clearly contractual and health related, it feels like a better deal could have been swung at various points. Meanwhile, Carolina got an elite talent for a paltry sum.
When you consider all of the factors, it’s hard to see the Patriots escaping this grade.
Why the “F” Grade is Valid For the Patriots
Gilmore isn’t the young, prime version of himself from 2019, and no, he wasn’t quite as dominant in 2020 even before he was injured. However, Gilmore would still be regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL–if healthy.
While it is understandable the Patriots might need to take a little less because of concerns about his health, and even his indeterminate contract status could be a factor. But a 6th-round pick?
I’m not sure if everyone is aware, but there are only seven rounds in the draft. So we’re to believe that at this point, this is all Gilmore is worth? It’s a preposterous concept and a ludicrous trade for the Patriots to have made. They would have been better off overpaying Gilmore for another two years than misplaying their hand to this degree and walking away with an embarrassing draft asset in the process.
Were the Patriots Right to Stay Otherwise Inactive at the Trade Deadline?
Despite the new one I just ripped the team in the previous section, the team is trending upward at this point. They have won two in a row, and if you made a list of teams that other squads would least like to face heading into Week 9, the Patriots might be closer to the top than their 4-4 record would indicate.
Because of the momentum, it wasn’t necessary for them to make a splashy move at the deadline. Sure, there is a case to be made for adding cornerback depth and adding a weapon in the passing game.
However, there is also the chance that New England gets strong play down the stretch from guys like Shaun Wade, Brian Poole, Joejuan Williams and Myles Bryant. If someone can emerge, we might be talking less about the Patriots not chasing a corner in a trade, and perhaps even less about the Gilmore debacle.
As receivers go, the top names would have come with a price tag the Patriots obviously weren’t willing to pay, so there has to be a confidence in the emergence of guys like Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and dare we say, N’Keal Harry. If either–especially the latter–pops for the rest of the season, New England could already have their game-changer in the passing game.
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