Bears Urged to Trade for Former DPOY to ‘Contend’ Now

Stephon Gilmore Bears

Getty The Bears are being urged to trade for Stephon Gilmore.

Right now, the secondary of the Chicago Bears is the Achilles heel of an aging defense that includes formidable stars like Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith.

It doesn’t help that the Bears have only five cornerbacks on their current 53-man roster. It’s a list that includes one promising young player (second-year corner Jaylon Johnson), a veteran who hasn’t played since 2019 (Artie Burns) and three completely unproven names with little experience (Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley and Xavier Crawford). The Bears cut All-Pro corner Kyle Fuller loose this spring to save cap space, and the move has left a huge question mark at the starting corner position opposite Johnson.

Chris Roling of Bleacher Report thinks the Bears can become instant “contenders” by making another splash trade similar to the one they made in early September of 2018 when they acquired Khalil Mack. This time, Roling thinks Chicago should go after New England Patriots All-Pro Stephon Gilmore.

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Gilmore Would Unquestionably Give Bears Secondary a Boost

Bears general manager Ryan Pace has a history of making trades with the Patriots, and Gilmore was the subject of trade rumors this spring. Roling thinks the addition of Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields ups the ante for the Bears, who have been in win-now mode for years now.

Here’s why Roling thinks Chicago should add Gilmore via trade:

The future is now given the brief glimpses of greatness from 11th overall pick Justin Fields, and contention might be on the table too. The 22-year-old rookie quarterback is the type of talent who looks like he can overcome certain roster issues, including what appears to be a bottom-10 offensive line. That’s assuming he eventually sees the field in 2021 after the Bears named veteran Andy Dalton their starter. Fields will also be throwing to wide receiver Allen Robinson II and has a deep running back room. But it wouldn’t hurt to see the defense get a little better.

No, it wouldn’t, but do the Bears have room for one more All-Pro on a defense already loaded with top-tier (and high-priced, but more on that in a minute) talent? Roling thinks so.

“A Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn-based front only led to a ho-hum 35 sacks last season, and Chicago lost cornerback Kyle Fuller in free agency after releasing him to free up cap space. They did not draft on the defensive side of the ball until the sixth round,” Roling wrote, referencing cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., who is now on Chicago’s practice squad after the team released him on August 31.

“Better coverage could help the pressure hit home more, which would put a high-upside offense in better positions to succeed. That would mean sacrificing long-term assets for a Stephon Gilmore-type presence,” he added.

But that’s something the Bears cannot afford without mortgaging the future again … right?

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What Would Trade Package for Gilmore Look Like?

Heading into the draft, when rumors swirled around Gilmore being moved, Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report thought the veteran corner could be had by trading a “spare third-rounder with another middle-round pick in 2021 or 2022.” If that’s the case, Chicago could nab him, but it’s not set in stone. Pats coach Bill Belichick is known for being a far more shrewd negotiator, however, and Pace’s propensity to trade up has left the Bears with minimal draft capital.

Chicago has zero first-round selections in 2022 after sending them to the New York Giants in exchange for Fields, and at present, the Bears have picks in Rounds 2, 3 5 and 6 of the 2022 NFL draft. If New England is willing to move him for a third and fourth, it still might be too much for a Bears team that needs to figure out how to grow through the draft instead of via free agency and costly trades like this one.

Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time All-Pro, turns 31 in late September, and he’s in the final year of his five-year, $65 million deal with the Patriots. He’s set to earn a base salary of $7 million this year, and he carries a dead cap hit of $8,530,309, per Spotrac.

Fuller’s cap hit would have been $20 million, and Gilmore’s is $16,265,595, so it’s doubtful Chicago wants to go that route. The Bears will likely add another corner before the regular season starts, but it very likely won’t be Gilmore.

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