Stephon Gilmore Replacement Could Be a Pro-Bowler: Analyst

Getty Jonathan Jones

The New England Patriots might wind up trading Stephon Gilmore. The former Defensive Player of the Year is holding out for a better deal. If he is dealt, one analyst predicts we could see his replacement have a breakout year.

Most consider J.C. Jackson the likely replacement for Gilmore, but Sports Illustrated’s Connor Orr sees Jonathan Jones as the player in the best position to benefit from increased opportunities.

Orr’s concept is based on Gilmore being traded, but some believe Jones is ready to turn the corner no matter who is still in the secondary with him.

Is Jones Ready for a Breakout No Matter What?

Sports Illustrated’s Mike D’Abate likes Jones’ chances of turning into a major player in his sixth season, even if Gilmore remains on the roster.

D’Abate wrote:

Entering his sixth season in New England, Jones continues to be considered among the top slot corners in the NFL. As such, it is likely that he will continue to be a fixture in New England’s nickel and dime packages. Should he continue the trend of seeing the field for more than half of the Patriots’ defensive snaps, Jones might just be in line for a spot on the Pro Bowl roster, regardless of Gilmore’s status.

Jones and the entire secondary could have a much easier time in 2021. Bill Belichick made it a point to shore up his front seven. The return of Dont’a Hightower from COVID-19 opt-out, Kyle Van Noy from the Miami Dolphins, grouped with the signings of players like Davon Godchaux, Matthew Judon, Harry Anderson, rookie defensive tackle Christian Barmore, and the return of Lawrence Guy is great news for the secondary.

They shouldn’t have to cover receivers for as long as they did in 2020 when the Patriots’ pass rush finished tied for 26th in the NFL with just 24 sacks.

Keeping Gilmore is the Ideal Solution

The Patriots could probably command two solid draft picks if they decide to trade Gilmore. His name has been in trade scuttlebutt for over a year.

That said, with the defense the Patriots have constructed for the upcoming season, the way they figure to have success running the ball and protecting the quarterback, it would be a shame to see them part ways with one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL this season.

Gilmore is 30 years old, which means he’s in the latter stages of his prime, and thus he is best served in a win-now situation. Depending on the way you feel about Cam Newton, it could be argued the Patriots are in the same spot. The two sides are best matched with one another, and the Patriots won’t have a better or equal defense without Gilmore.

Patriots fans should be hoping for Belichick to pay Gilmore what he’s worth over the next two years so that they can get the most of one what’s left of pretty impressive prime.

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