The Panthers made a second major addition to their cornerback group Wednesday, acquiring former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore from the Patriots. This followed Carolina’s trade for C.J. Henderson.
Carolina now takes on Gilmore’s contract. While Gilmore is attached to the $13MM-per-year deal he signed in 2017, he is due less than $7MM in 2021 base salary going forward. Gilmore’s contract expires after this season, but Panthers GM Scott Fitterer said the team will not immediately extend him post-trade (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s David Newton).
Gilmore expressed disappointment regarding his contract for years in New England, when he outplayed the deal he signed after coming over from Buffalo. He skipped the Patriots’ offseason program this year. Since his two All-Pro nods, however, Gilmore missed five games last year and is guaranteed to miss the first six this season due to the quadriceps injury he sustained late in 2020.
Fitterer does expect Gilmore to be ready to come off the PUP list when first eligible in Week 7, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Carolina’s new GM would seem to have extensive information on Gilmore, as they live next to each other in Charlotte. Gilmore is a South Carolina native who starred with the Gamecocks in college.
Gilmore turned 31 last month, and a potential re-up with the Panthers will likely hinge on his 2021 performance. While a high-cost short-term deal might be in the cards after a strong season, Gilmore’s window to land Jalen Ramsey-level money is likely closed. The corner’s camp acknowledged as much earlier this year, though Gilmore’s team did float Darius Slay‘s three-year, $50MM Eagles deal as a comp during his discussions with the Pats.
The Panthers have reshaped their cornerback room via the trade market, but they are not giving up on Jaycee Horn coming back this season. Carolina’s first-round pick broke three broken bones in his foot during the team’s Week 3 win and landed on IR. He was said to be conversing with his camp about the best course of action — be it a late-season return or preparing for the 2022 season. The Panthers remain hopeful the former scenario can come to pass, Fitterer said (via Newton, on Twitter). Matt Rhule said late last month Horn was set to undergo surgery. A two- to three-month recovery timetable is in the cards with that operation.