Patriots Cornerback Makes Public Pitch to Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore

Getty Former Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore catches game winning interception in 2019 Super Bowl.

After the first wave of NFL free agency, Stephon Gilmore‘s services remain up for grabs.

Alex Barth of Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub raised a fair question on Twitter about the former New England Patriots cornerback potentially returning in 2022.

“If the Patriots and Malcolm Butler can get back on the same page, does that make Stephon Gilmore reunion a more realistic possibility now as well?” Barth tweeted on March 23.

The Patriots engaged in a similar reunion with Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler, who re-signed with the Patriots for two years and $9 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. While Butler wasn’t the hopeful pick-up many Patriots fans would have liked, he will bring some experience and respect to New England’s secondary.

Ironically, the reason Butler and Patriots initially began to fall out was because of the five-year, $65 million contract Gilmore received during the 2017 offseason, just days after New England elected to retain Butler on the lowest-possible tender, paying him only $3.9 million and delaying a payday for the overperforming undrafted free agent.

However, if the Patriots could rekindle their relationship with Butler, they possibly can with Gilmore. But there are many potentially overcomeable obstacles in the way.

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Patriots Cornerback Makes Public Pitch to Gilmore

Barth’s tweet began to gain traction, while Patriots slot cornerback Jonathan Jones furthered the conversation with a direct pitch to Gilmore on Twitter.

“We got [Malcom Butler] back. Ayoo [Stephon Gilmore] run it back like old times,” Jones wrote.

Examining if the Patriots acquire Gilmore alongside Butler, Jones and Devin McCourty, the upside has the potential to be the best defensive back room in the league. However, the downside of this inquiry would be adding to an already-aging secondary, which could put extra pressure on the front office to find starting-level replacements sooner than later. That is only escalated with the departure of J.C. Jackson to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Acquiring Gilmore may only set the Patriots back instead of helping them reach peak level, especially considering the team only has approximately $10 million in salary cap space, a chunk of which is needed to allocate to their 2022 rookie draft class.

Gilmore’s expected market value, however, is already in the range of $14 million per season, according to Spotrac.

What Started the Beef Between Gilmore & the Patriots?

Gilmore, 31, has battled injuries in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, therefore, he’s been extremely inconsistent on the stat sheet. In 2021, Gilmore played only seven games and recorded only 2 interceptions and 16 total tackles.

The year prior, before he was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round pick, he played in 11 games where he recorded 37 tackles and 1 interception. Ever since Gilmore suffered his quad injury in Week 15 of the 2020 season, the relationship showed signs of deterioration between the Patriots and Gilmore.

Gilmore, who had season-ending surgery to repair the ailment in December 2020, later expressed some frustration with New England as a member of the Panthers in November 2021.

“I wasn’t ready at the beginning of training camp, I’m going to be completely honest with you,” Gilmore told WEEI’s 93.7 FM. “The only thing [was] I just didn’t like how they handled my situation with my injury. A lot went on with that that I didn’t agree with and now that I am here, I am able to do the things I need to do to get me back and be ready to where I need to be.

“I learned a lot there and got a lot of friends there, a lot of great coaches. I just didn’t like how they handled my situation with my injury,” Gilmore said.

While this reunion seems ideal in an increasingly fantasy football-focused world, it may be very unlikely the parties can find a mutual understanding – or the money – to make it work again.

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