The New England Patriots have been very active signing players in free agency and have even pulled off a couple of trades to reshape their roster.
If things go as planned, the Patriots will likely make at least one more major deal. Sure, there is the chance they will trade up to grab a young, athletic quarterback like Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
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However, before they do that, it is more likely they will ship All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore out for more draft assets. CLNS’ Evan Lazar and Alex Barth discussed this scenario, which came from a CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora report.
“Most GMs have considered it a foregone conclusion that the Patriots would trade top corner Stephon Gilmore this offseason, and I haven’t heard anything about a contract extension, so a trade still seems like an eventuality.”
A more recent report from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe suggests the Patriots aren’t actively shopping Gilmore, though he says the team has received calls about his availability.
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What the Patriots Might Be Able to Get
The least the Patriots will get for trading Gilmore is a third-round pick, and the highest cost I could imagine is a late first-rounder from a contender who sees themselves as a high-level corner away from Super Bowl contention.
Gilmore will be 31 in September, and he’s coming off a season-ending injury to his quad. Still, Gilmore made the Pro Bowl after playing in just 11 games and seeing his interception total dip to just one in 2020.
Some believe the Patriots have another elite corner in the making in J.C. Jackson, which makes Gilmore expendable. If the Patriots can get a first or second-rounder for Gilmore in a trade, there is a chance they could draft the kind of prospect at corner who could potentially make his way onto the field in 2021 to help cushion the blow of Gilmore’s exit.
Helping to Fuel the Trade-Up Assets
Trading Gilmore for a pick would also help the Patriots add the selections needed to trade up into the Top 10 or 5 if they covet a quarterback like Fields or Lance. New England isn’t going to want to mortgage an entire draft to move up for their quarterback.
However, if they can get their total pick total for 2021 up to 13 or 14, they may feel better about sending three picks from this draft–including the No. 15 selection–to position themselves to make a splash for one of the top young, dual-threat quarterbacks.
If the Patriots can add on to their free-agent haul with their future franchise quarterback, a speed receiver, a dangerous punt returner, and a cornerback who develops into a starter, this offseason might go down in history as one of the best for the franchise.
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