Patriots’ Biggest Trade Chip Revealed

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Most of the conversation related to the New England Patriots remaking their roster has been connected to potential free-agent signings and the 2021 NFL Draft.

Both of those events will figure prominently in the Patriots addressing their multiple needs, but we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a significant trade. Trading the right player(s) could land the Patriots even more financial flexibility and/or more draft picks.

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Stephon Gilmore is the Biggest Trade Piece

Patriots radio play-by-play announcer Bob Socci believes the team’s biggest potential trade chip is Pro-Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Socci spoke with NBC Sports and shared his perspective on what he thinks the Patriots might be able to get for Gilmore in a trade.

There is no chance to get a 1. I tend to believe that when you look at his age, and you look at the contract situation. But I think you have to be open for multi-pick offers. You get a second and maybe a sixth, and maybe there’s even a player involved in a package.

Gilmore will be 31 shortly after the 2021 NFL season begins. He also finished the 2020 season on injured reserve with a partially torn quad. Gilmore is scheduled to represent a $17.1 million cap hit next season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the next offseason.

The Patriots are unlikely to pay him the contract he’ll have earned, especially considering his age, and it is widely believed the team might be willing to move him this offseason while he has the most value. There are a few questions the Patriots have to answer before making Gilmore available to the highest bidder this offseason.

What is a Fair Asking Price for Gilmore?

Gilmore won the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and had a solid campaign in 2020. However, Socci is probably right, the Patriots aren’t likely to get a team to offer them a first-rounder for Gilmore. Were he 27 years old with the same resume, it might be a different story.

That said, Bill Belichick and Co. will have to determine if a second and maybe sixth-round pick will be enough to say goodbye to one of the best cover corners in the league and in the team’s history.

The Patriots should have 10 picks in the 2021 draft once they are awarded their compensatory selections for the free-agent exits of Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy, and Jamie Collins. Adding two more from a Gilmore trade–especially a second-rounder–would give New England some attractive assets for a potential trade-up in the draft.

On the other hand, Belichick could keep all of the picks and use them to stockpile talent across his rather incomplete roster.

Can the Patriots’ Current Secondary Handle Life Without Gilmore?

If the Patriots are parting ways with Gilmore, J.C. Jackson would likely assume the responsibility of covering every team’s best receiver each week. He had mixed reviews in that role when Gilmore was out this past season. For example, the Buffalo Bills’ Stefon Diggs shredded Jackson in Week 16 for 9 catches, 145 yards, and 3 TDs.

However, Jackson did have 9 interceptions in 2020 to finish second in the NFL in that category. If he were to head into the 2021 season as the team’s No. 1 corner, you would expect him to be prepared to take on a bigger role.

Jackson, Johnathan Jones, and rookie Myles Bryant showed enough promise in 2020 to be trusted without Gilmore next season. That’s especially the case if the Patriots can use their additional assets to shore up other areas of the team.

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