‘We Play for Coach Schwartz’: Patriots All-Pro on Trade Block, Strong Ties to Eagles

Getty Stephon Gilmore

Figuring out what the Eagles might do at the NFL trade deadline is akin to picking the best red gravy joint in Philly. Everyone has a different opinion. But the smart money is on them being buyers on Nov. 3 considering GM Howie Roseman’s track record. The team already freed up money by restructuring Fletcher Cox’s contract.

The Eagles have $22.8 million available in cap space for 2020, seventh-best in football — although that number gets crooked real fast in 2021. Far from an ideal situation for a team in win-now mode. But maybe the Eagles’ brain trust can get creative in a blockbuster trade scenario for the best cornerback in the NFL. The Patriots are reportedly listening to offers for All-Pro Stephon Gilmore, a player who has an established relationship with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

The two spent the 2014 campaign together in Buffalo when Schwartz was the defensive coordinator there. Gilmore showed his appreciation for Schwartz following a 17-14 victory over the Lions in 2014. The shutdown cornerback spear-headed the charge to lift Schwartz up and carry the coach off the field in Detroit. It was an emotional moment for Schwartz who had been fired by the Lions the previous year.

“I think as a defense we play for Coach Schwartz,” said Gilmore at the time, via Detroit Free Press. “That’s what we did. We wanted to play.”

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Asking Price for Patriots All-Pro Cornerback?

No one is quite sure what the asking price for Gilmore would be from New England. One report named a first-round pick but the Patriots need assets, especially at the offensive skill positions. Would Bill Belichick be willing to settle for a mid-round draft pick packaged with a Pro-Bowl player like Zach Ertz?

Maybe the Eagles could throw in savvy possession receiver Alshon Jeffery or second-year receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Sure, the latter has been a huge disappointment in Philly but he’s a former second-rounder who is just 23 years old.

Gilmore, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is an absolute stud. Yes, the Eagles already have a ton of money committed to a top-tier cornerback in Darius Slay. Everyone knows that. Still, it’s probably worth a phone call to see what might lure Gilmore away from the Evil Empire. He’s surprisingly only due $20 million in base salary over the next two years, per Spotrac.

Schwartz Loves Grabbing His Former Players

It’s no secret Schwartz has a fondness for nostalgia. The Eagles defensive coordinator has rushed to grab several of his former players in Buffalo, including Ronald Darby, Nigel Bradham, Leodis McKelvin, Corey Graham, Nickell Robey-Coleman. He also helped orchestrate the trade that brought Slay to Philly. Why not Gilmore?

Schwartz talked openly about coaching Gilmore during his early days and even compared him to Slay. There is clearly mutual respect there.

“I had Steph Gilmore early in his career in Buffalo and Steph matched everybody last year with the Patriots and was an All-Pro player and matched everybody,” Schwartz told reporters during training camp. “He wasn’t ready for that early in his career when I was with him in Buffalo, but Slay is a guy who is sort of at the same point. He’s done a lot of that in the past and it won’t be anything new for him and we’re really excited to have him and I think it’s going to add a different dimension to our secondary.”

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