Colts Ship 5-Time Pro Bowler to NFC Contender: Report

Stephon Gilmore

Getty The Indianapolis Colts have traded five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore will play for his fourth franchise in as many seasons.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on March 14 that the Indianapolis Colts have traded Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys. In exchange for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, the Colts will receive a 2023 fifth-round compensatory selection.

Gilmore played just the 2022 season with the Colts after signing a two-year, $23 million deal. The contract included $14 million guaranteed.

In 2022, Gilmore was one of Indianapolis’ best defenders. He posted 66 combined tackles, 11 pass defenses and 2 interceptions. Gilmore played 1,063 defensive snaps, which was second on the team behind only linebacker Zaire Franklin.

Colts Trade Stephon Gilmore, Lose Brandon Facyson to Free Agency

Gilmore played the first nine years of his career with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots after being the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

But he will now play for his third new team in three years with the Cowboys. Gilmore spent the 2021 season with the Carolina Panthers.

He’s not the same player he once was, but he made the Pro Bowl despite only playing nine games for the Panthers in 2021. While he didn’t make the Pro Bowl during 2022, Pro Football Focus ranked Gilmore the fourth-best defender for the Colts last season behind only DeForest Buckner, Isaiah Rodgers and Rodney McLeod.

In 2019, Gilmore won the Defensive Player of the Year award by leading the NFL with 6 interceptions and 20 pass defenses. Gilmore earned first-team All-Pro nominations in 2018 and 2019.

Gilmore is the second cornerback the Colts have departed with early in NFL free agency. Veteran Brandon Facyson left in free agency to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Colts were deep at cornerback last season, but after the Gilmore trade, it’s an obvious hole on defense. Second-year undrafted cornerback Dallis Flowers, who is more of a kick return specialist, currently sits in a starting role on the Colts depth chart.

The Athletic’s Zak Keefer reported the Gilmore trade to the Cowboys meant the Colts will have $9.9 million in additional cap space this offseason.

How the Colts Replace Gilmore

Creating cap space this time of year is obviously important. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported that the Colts cleared about another $17.2 million in cap room with the release of quarterback Matt Ryan on March 14 shortly after trading Gilmore to the Cowboys.

But as previously mentioned, the Colts now have very little depth at cornerback. And what depth they have with Moore and Rodgers might not be around past 2023. Both Moore and Rodgers are set to be unrestricted free agents next offseason.

General manager Chris Ballard will likely search for younger options in free agency to replace Gilmore, as he tries to fill out the roster for 2023.

Even with Gilmore, the Colts were probably due to draft a cornerback early within the next couple drafts. But the position now becomes an even bigger need in this year’s draft with the loss of Gilmore and Facyson. The Colts hold seven selections in the 2023 NFL draft.

It would be very surprising if their first pick at No. 4 doesn’t go to a quarterback. Indianapolis’ next pick is at No. 35 overall in the second round.

The Colts have other needs at offensive line and wide receiver, but if Ballard elects to go with a defensive player early in the second round, cornerback is probably now the most important position to address.

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