Barnwell ranked the offseasons of every NFL team. He put the Patriots at No. 2, but he doesn’t believe the organization is without its challenges. He points to cornerback as one of the positions that is unsettled and suggests he “wouldn’t be shocked” if Gilmore was “dealt before the season began.”
Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson both will be unrestricted free agents in 2022. Gilmore was rumored to be in trade talks, although no deal ever transpired. The Patriots could work on extensions with either corner, although I wouldn’t be shocked if he was dealt before the season began. In the past, Belichick has dealt away Logan Mankins and Richard Seymour in the final few days before the season began. If the legendary coach gets a good offer for the former Defensive Player of the Year, Belichick could do the same with Gilmore.
It just feels as if the Patriots have one more eye-popping move to pull off before the start of the season. Maybe something involving Gilmore is what’s in store.
What Would Gilmore Bring Back in a Trade?
Julio Jones is a wide receiver, but he is also 32 years old. In his prime, which he may not be that far removed, his skill level is about as comparable to Gilmore’s as can be for two players who play different positions.
When you consider Jones went to the Tennessee Titans for a second and fourth-round pick, it suggests the Patriots might be able to get something similar for Gilmore. Perhaps a second and a fifth, or maybe a third and a sixth from a team that needs a guy who has still proven capable of being a top-notch corner.
Gilmore’s contract situation is tricky and could be the sticking point for prospective suitors. He expects to have his deal redone and extended. Because he’s 30 years old and coming off an injury, there is a serious risk involved. That could impact a deal being completed.
How About J.C. Jackson?
Jackson is much younger, and he could be secured on a longer-term deal for much less than Gilmore will command. Those two factors might make him more attractive to teams looking to add an upper-echelon cornerback.
That said, there may be some questions about whether Jackson’s play is worthy of that tag. While he has piled up the interceptions over the past two seasons, but he struggled at times when pressed into the No. 1 corner spot. The Buffalo Bills’ Stefon Diggs and even the New York Jets’ Denzel Mims feasted on Jackson last season.
All corners get burned at some point, but there was enough there to warrant some concern about going with a secondary in 2021 led by Jackson instead of Gilmore. The way the Patriots coaching staff views Jackson could have a lot to do with what they decide to do with Gilmore.
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