The Cowboys plan to pick up the second year of Stephon Gilmore‘s Colts-constructed contract. Indianapolis has agreed on a trade that will send the former Defensive Player of the Year to Dallas, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).
In exchange, the Colts will receive a fifth-round Cowboys compensatory pick in this year’s draft. Gilmore is going into his age-33 season, but he played well in 2022. He will pair with Trevon Diggs in Dallas, which lost multiple cornerback regulars last season.
While Gilmore went through two rocky years following his dominant 2019 campaign, he bounced back with the Colts. Despite Indy’s chaotic season, Gilmore again proved to be a reliable defender. Pro Football Focus ranked the 6-foot-1 defender ninth among corners, and he allowed a 56.2% completion rate and 74.0 passer rating as the closest defender — both his best marks since that 2019 DPOY performance.
This will give the Cowboys a veteran boundary complement to Diggs, who lacked reliable presences opposite the risk-taking All-Pro to close last season. Both Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis suffered season-ending injuries, limiting the Cowboys’ upper-echelon defense in coverage. The team still has Lewis under contract, though Brown is a free agent, and plans to re-sign safety Donovan Wilson. Adding Gilmore will give the Cowboys a veteran-laden secondary without a top-tier contract on the books.
Gilmore angled for a new Patriots contract in 2021, doing so after the Pats gave him a one-year pay bump in 2020. But after the quadriceps injury that ended his ’20 campaign early, New England stood down. Gilmore landed on the Pats’ reserve/PUP list to start that season and never played another game with New England, which traded the former first-round pick to Carolina for a late-round selection. Gilmore underwent meniscus surgery during the 2022 offseason, Rapoport adds (on Twitter), and he looked closer to his peak form with the Colts.
Few modern corners have enjoyed seasons on the level of Gilmore’s 2019. The then-30-year-old outside corner rolled to Defensive Player of the Year acclaim during a season in which he intercepted six passes and limited quarterbacks to a collective 44.1 passer rating while in coverage. Gilmore enhanced his reputation considerably in New England, earning two first-team All-Pro nods and helping the team to its sixth Super Bowl title. The Cowboys will call on him to help them negotiate this decades-long hurdle.
After losing yet another divisional-round game, the Cowboys went to work creating cap space by restructuring the deals of Dak Prescott and Zack Martin. The Prescott restructure will provide the veteran QB with more leverage down the road, but it also equipped Jerry Jones’ team with more than $30MM in additional cap space.
One season remains on Gilmore’s two-year, $20MM deal. The Cowboys will take on the former Bills draftee’s $7.96MM salary, and they will count on the 12th-year veteran displaying the form he showed as a Colt last year. The Colts will take on $2MM in dead money by making this trade. They have moved on from multiple starting corners in recent years, trading Rock Ya-Sin to the Raiders in 2022 and now unloading the player they acquired to replace him. Slot staple Kenny Moore remains as Indianapolis’ top cornerback, but the team will need replacements on the outside.