Stephon Gilmore

CB Stephon Gilmore Addresses Free Agency

Stephon Gilmore remains on the open market as he seeks out a new deal. The former Defensive Player of the Year recently spoke about his lengthy free agent process, noting that he is eyeing an ideal fit with his next team.

“I’m still focused on playing, but it has to be the right opportunity,” Gilmore told Josina Anderson of CBS Sports“I feel like it’s the age thing with some of these teams. If I was 28, I would already have been signed by now; at the same time, I know the value I still bring. If you watch the tape, I feel like I played well the last two years, and literally almost played every snap last year. So I’m staying patient.”

Indeed, Gilmore has logged over 1,000 defensive snaps in each of the past two seasons. That stretch includes his one-and-done campaign with the Colts, followed by his time with the Cowboys last year. The five-time Pro Bowler stated a desire to re-sign with Dallas earlier this offseason, but nothing has happened on that front. Gilmore has frequently been linked to a return to Carolina, where he played in 2021.

A report from Monday indicated the Panthers are not close to an agreement with the 33-year-old, however. As a result, Gilmore remains available to any teams eyeing experience in the secondary. The former first-rounder was limited to nine games in his Carolina campaign, but he has missed just one contest since. Remaining a full-time starter over the past two years, he has totaled four interceptions and 24 pass breakups and could therefore be a productive contributor on a number of teams.

Around the NFL, teams are finalizing their rookie classes in anticipation of minicamps. Signing draft picks to their respective contracts will use up some of each team’s available cap space, but several potential suitors could comfortably afford a short-term Gilmore deal. It will be interesting to see what his asking price sits at, and the interest which is generated in the coming weeks with respect to teams being willing to meet it.

Panthers, Stephon Gilmore Not Close To Deal

Both before and after the draft, the Panthers have been linked to a reunion with Stephon Gilmore. The former Defensive Player of the Year is among the top cornerbacks still on the market, but a Carolina agreement may not be a lock at this point.

Joe Person of The Athletic notes there has been “no movement” between team and player in the Gilmore situation (subscription required). That has remained the case for weeks, he adds, meaning nothing is imminent regarding a deal being struck. Carolina traded away Donte Jackson in the Diontae Johnson deal, and the team lost C.J. Henderson and Shaquill Griffin during free agency.

That created a few vacancies on the CB depth chart, although Dane Jackson was added on a two-year deal. That move still had the Panthers set up to use a high draft pick on a corner, but instead the team’s only rookie addition was fifth-rounder Chau Smith-Wade. As a result, the Panthers may still be in the market for an addition in the post-draft wave of free agency.

Gilmore spent the 2021 season in Carolina, with his campaign being limited to nine games. In spite of the missed time, he still added a fifth Pro Bowl to his resume that year, and he remained a full-time starter while subsequently playing for the Colts and Cowboys. The 33-year-old expressed a desire to re-sign in Dallas earlier this offseason, but it remains to be seen if the feeling is mutual.

Carolina currently has just over $8MM in cap space, some of which will be needed to sign the team’s draft class. That will still leave sufficient funds to make a somewhat notable addition late in free agency, and Gilmore could remain a target on a low-cost arrangement. With the sides apparently not in discussion, however, it would come as a surprise if a deal were to come together in the near future. Aside from Gilmore, other free agent cornerback options include J.C. JacksonSteven NelsonAdoree’ Jackson and Patrick Peterson.

Panthers To Retain RB Miles Sanders, Likely To Sign CB Stephon Gilmore

The Panthers made Jonathon Brooks the first running back off the board in this weekend’s draft, trading two fifth-round picks to move up six spots in the second round to select the former Texas standout. However, the Brooks pick does not impact RB Miles Sanders‘ standing with the team.

As first-year GM Dan Morgan said, “we love Miles. We see a big role for him. He can do a lot for our offense. He’s versatile in the pass game and he’s a really good runner. So we’re excited about him, as well” (via Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required)).

New head coach Dave Canales added, “all these guys (Brooks, Sanders, and Chuba Hubbard) are going to play. Look at the history of league. Every team I’ve been on, we used all of our running backs at different points because it’s such a violent position.”

Sanders, who will turn 27 this week, slogged through a miserable 2023, his first year in Charlotte after he parlayed a strong tenure with the Eagles into a four-year, $25MM contract with the Panthers last March (he was the only RB to secure a contract over three years in length last offseason, and his $6.25MM AAV was tops among all running backs who received more than a one-year term). His signing was championed by former HC Frank Reich and assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley, but when Reich and Staley were fired in November, Sanders’ role diminished.

In 16 games last season, the 2022 Pro Bowler handled 129 carries for 432 yards, which amounted to a poor 3.3 yards-per-carry average. He did catch 27 passes for 154 yards, but he scored just one total touchdown. In fairness, the Panthers’ offense as a whole was an unmitigated disaster in 2023, finishing last in the league in both yards and points, and it stands to reason that the team would want to give a talented back another look in a Canales-led unit that has no place to go but up. Plus, while Carolina would actually realize some cap savings by trading Sanders, he likely has no trade value at this point given his poor showing last season and the fact that he still has three years left on his deal, with base salaries ranging between $4.02MM and $5.5MM.

On the defensive side of the ball, we heard earlier this month that Morgan was giving thought to signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who played for the Panthers in 2021. Morgan indicated at the time that he would revisit the matter after the draft was over.

Over the past three days, Morgan made just one CB addition, selecting Washington State defender Chau Smith-Wade in the fifth-round. As Person opines, Smith-Wade’s diminutive stature will likely force him into a slot role at the professional level, and since Donte Jackson and C.J. Henderson are no longer in the mix, the Panthers still have a need for a boundary corner to join Jaycee Horn and free agent addition Dane Jackson.

In Person’s view, it is an inevitability that the Panthers will sign Gilmore.

Panthers Still Considering Stephon Gilmore

The Panthers have been connected to old friend Stephon Gilmore over the past month, and it sounds like a reunion is still a possibility. Panthers GM Dan Morgan told reporters (including Darin Gantt of the team’s website) that they’re still considering a Gilmore signing and will revisit after the draft.

[RELATED: Stephon Gilmore Back On Panthers’ Radar]

“Yeah, we’re gonna leave the door open there,” Morgan said (h/t PanthersWire). “We’re still gonna stay in communication and after the draft, we’ll circle back and kinda see where it goes from there.”

It’s not a huge surprise that the Panthers are keeping their options open, as the team is set to see plenty of turnover at cornerback in 2024. The team lost two significant pieces in Donte Jackson, who was dealt to the Steelers for Diontae Johnson, and C.J. Henderson, who left via free agency. The organization did sign Dane Jackson, adding the veteran to a grouping that also includes former first-round pick Jaycee Horn and little-used 2023 backups Dicaprio Bootle and D’Shawn Jamison.

Gilmore would certainly provide some veteran experience to that grouping, and the defensive back has shown that he still has plenty left in the tank. Gilmore wasn’t elite during his time with the Cowboys in 2023, but Pro Football Focus still graded him 35th among 127 qualifying cornerbacks. Gilmore expressed interest in re-signing with the Cowboys after the season.

Gilmore was traded to the Panthers during the 2021 season and got into nine games (eight starts) for the team. He finished that campaign with 16 tackles and two interceptions. During his 2022 campaign with the Colts, Gilmore was ranked ninth in those same metrics, so the former DPOY has recently shown that he can be a top-end performer.

Latest On Panthers’ CB Situation

The Panthers have a vacancy at the cornerback spot for the time being, with Donte Jackson having been traded to the Steelers for Diontae Johnson and C.J. Henderson departing in free agency. Carolina has since signed Dane Jackson, but another move could be coming relatively soon.

Carolina is interested in bringing back Stephon Gilmorewho had a one-year tenure with the team in 2021. That season was limited to eight games, but the former Defensive Player of the Year still managed to earn a Pro Bowl nod. Gilmore remained healthy during his subsequent campaigns with the Colts and Cowboys, and he is one of the top defensive free agents still on the market.

A new Dallas deal is on Gilmore’s radar, but the 33-year-old could see starting duties if he were to re-join the Panthers. Gilmore would play alongside Jadeveon Clowney in that event, as the former No. 1 pick joined Carolina last week. The two attended the same South Carolina high school, and that connection could help convince Gilmore to take on a Panthers deal. Short of that, though, the team could be in need of a rookie CB addition.

Joe Person of The Athletic predicts the Panthers will select a corner “fairly high” in the upcoming draft if Gilmore or no other veteran is not signed (subscription required). Carolina has Jaycee Horn in place as a starter for at least one more season; a decision on his fifth-year option will be made this spring. The former top-10 pick has battled injuries in his career, though, so a long-term investment in the secondary would come as little surprise.

Dane Jackson will play a part in the team’s efforts to improve against the pass, having signed a two-year deal in free agency. The 27-year-old was drafted when Panthers GM Dan Morgan was a member of Brandon Beane‘s Bills staff, and Person notes Morgan lobbied for Carolina to sign Jackson when he became available. Jackson is in line to serve as a slot starter on his new team, one which has undergone several changes on both sides of the ball this offseason.

Carolina ranked third against the pass in 2023, and the retention of defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero points to a repeat of that success being possible this season. At least one notable move at the CB spot will likely be required, however, whether it is a reunion with Gilmore or an early emphasis on the position in the draft.

Stephon Gilmore Back On Panthers’ Radar

Even as the Panthers attempt to pick up the pieces after a 2-15 season, soon-to-be 31-year-old pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney remains on their radar. Another prominent NFL 30-something does as well.

Stephon Gilmore, who went to the same South Carolina high school as Clowney, is back in play for the Panthers. Carolina’s new regime reached out to Gilmore about a potential return, The Athletic’s Joe Person tweets.

Matt Rhule and GM Scott Fitterer authorized a 2021 trade that brought Gilmore to the Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round pick. Gilmore, however, ended up playing only a half-season with Carolina. The Panthers did not re-sign the Rock Hill, S.C., native in 2022; the former Defensive Player of the Year instead signed with the Colts. Indianapolis traded Gilmore to Dallas last year, and while the 33-year-old corner expressed interest in staying with the Cowboys, he remains unsigned.

Dallas brought back Jourdan Lewis, who will be in line to patrol the slot alongside DaRon Bland and the recovering Trevon Diggs. This might not leave a spot for Gilmore, who appears to have at least one other option. While cornerbacks ahead of their age-34 seasons do not typically generate extensive interest, Gilmore has been one of the NFL’s best boundary corners over the past several years.

Gilmore played a lead role in helping the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl title, intercepting a pass against the Rams in a defensively powered championship performance. Gilmore won his DPOY honor the following year and made another Pro Bowl in 2020. He added a Pro Bowl alternate nod with the Panthers, though he only played in eight games that season due to a quad injury and a contract impasse with the Patriots. Last season, Gilmore intercepted two passes and allowed a 55.8% completion rate as the closest defender — his best showing since the dominant 2019 campaign.

The Panthers traded one of their CB starters, Donte Jackson, to the Steelers in an exchange that brought Diontae Johnson to Charlotte. Jaycee Horn has also dealt with injury problems; Gilmore initially joined the Panthers while Horn was rehabbing a broken foot. The team bringing Gilmore back would create a reality in which the Panthers roster two 33-year-old corners; the recently re-signed Troy Hill will turn 33 just before the season. This would be an interesting route to take for a rebuilding team, but another starter-level corner will likely be needed ahead of Ejiro Evero‘s second season running Carolina’s defense.

CB Stephon Gilmore Wants To Re-Sign With Cowboys

Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore just completed his 12th season in the NFL, playing for his fourth team in as many years. Despite this recent bouncing around, Gilmore has proclaimed his interest in remaining in Dallas for the 2024 season, according to Jon Machota of The Athletic.

“I want to come back,” Gilmore said on a local radio show. “We can’t talk until March, but that’s the goal, because I think we do have the pieces to get to where we want to go, and I want to be part of that.”

Gilmore, 33, has struggled with injury in recent years, though his season stats may not show it. After missing five games, including the final two with a partially torn quad, in 2020, Gilmore would miss the first seven weeks of the 2021 season due to the prior year’s injury. He’d make a strong rebound in 2022, starting every game but the season finale in Indianapolis, but injuries would turn their ugly head once again in 2023.

Three weeks ago, it was reported that Gilmore had found out that he had torn his labrum in his right shoulder before Super Wild Card weekend. An injury like that is certainly grounds for season-ending surgery that late in the season. Gilmore, though, made the conscious decision to delay surgery, toughing it out for what he hoped would be the second Super Bowl run of his career. Gilmore wore a shoulder harness and played 100 percent of the defensive snaps for Dallas in their loss to the Packers. He would’ve done that three more times, if given the opportunity.

With the Cowboys’ season officially ended after their loss to the Packers, Gilmore underwent surgery soon after, per ESPN’s Todd Archer. Gilmore’s surgery has an expected recovery period of four to six months, so wherever he chooses to sign, he should be able to make a return in time for training camp. Whether or not the limited communication until March that Gilmore mentioned is self-imposed is not quite clear, as the two sides should have full access to each other for negotiations. Regardless, Gilmore has interest in his training camp return being with the Cowboys.

Injury Updates: Raiders, Gilmore, Williams

Maxx Crosby, who was already a two-time Pro Bowler and a second-team All-Pro selection within his first four years as a pass rusher for the Raiders, surprised nobody by putting up another career year in 2023. What’s even more impressive about this year’s Pro Bowl season and second-team All-Pro selection is that Crosby accomplished both feats while dealing with a knee injury for most of the season, per Grant Gordon of

This week, Crosby posted a picture of himself following a successful procedure on his left knee. The procedure was reportedly meant clean up an issue with his bursa that Crosby had been dealing with since Week 2 of the 2023 season. That’s not all. The 26-year-old also said recently that he will require thumb surgery. All of this information makes career-highs in tackles (90), sacks (14.5), and tackles for a loss (a league-leading 23) this season all the more impressive.

Elsewhere in Vegas, running back Josh Jacobs saw his own injury information made public earlier this month. After leading the league in rushing yards in 2022, Jacobs’ disappointing 2023 campaign came to an unceremonious end four weeks early, as the 25-year-old missed the final four games of the season with injury.

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Jacobs had “been dealing with two deep bone contusions that…restricted his range of motion, preventing him from being cleared by the team medical staff.” Pelissero relays that the issues did not result in any structural damage and that Jacobs should be fully healthy heading into free agency this offseason.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL, starting with an update out of northeast Texas:

  • Before Super Wild Card weekend, Cowboys veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore found out that he had suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder. An injury like that is certainly grounds for season-ending surgery that late in the season. Gilmore, though, made the conscious decision to delay surgery, toughing it out for what he hoped would be the second Super Bowl run of his career, per Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News. Gilmore wore a shoulder harness and played 100 percent of the defensive snaps for Dallas in their loss to the Packers. He would’ve done that three more times, if given the opportunity. With the Cowboys’ season now officially ended, Gilmore said that he expected surgery soon, giving him plenty of time to be ready to play in 2024, wherever that may be for the pending free agent.
  • Lastly, the Rams saw rookie sensation Kyren Williams suffer a hand injury in last weekend’s loss to the Lions. The running back out of Notre Dame finished the regular season behind only Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry in rushing yards but was forced to exit his team’s playoff game with a broken bone in his hand, according to Rams senior staff writer Stu Jackson. Williams underwent successful surgery on Tuesday of this week and should have plenty of time to recover for his sophomore campaign.

AFC South Rumors: Pittman, Leonard, Texans

After trading away one half of their outstanding cornerback duo in Stephon Gilmore, the Colts expressed some interest in adding to the position room, according to Bobby Kownack of The team still has Isaiah Rodgers, who ranked as the NFL’s fifth-best cornerback last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), but across from him is Kenny Moore, who ranked at 96th.

Indianapolis is unlikely to use the No. 4 overall pick to select a cornerback in the draft, but there is likely to be some strong options at 35th overall at the front of the second round. Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo are projected to be borderline first-round players who could fall just outside. If not, Michigan’s DJ Turner and Utah’s Clark Phillips III are expected to last into Day 2.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard also mentioned free agency as a possible route to address the position, claiming that “there’s still some free agents out there, too, that could help…if need be.” He’s not wrong. Even if the Colts don’t want to reunite with Rock Ya-Sin, veterans Shaquill Griffin, Marcus Peters, and Ronald Darby are all still available on the free agent market.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC South:

  • After sitting out his entire rookie season with an Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia diagnosis, Texans wide receiver John Metchie is hoping to make his NFL debut in 2023. According to Texans TV host Drew Dougherty, Metchie has been involved since Houston began offseason conditioning earlier this month. They plan to continue to take it one day at a time, but it’s a promising sign for a young player who is overcoming tremendous adversity to get back to the football field.
  • The Colts have a few young offensive players’ contracts expiring after the 2023 season, and earlier this month, one of those players, wide receiver Michael Pittman spoke on the topic of an extension, according to Colts staff writer JJ Stankevitz. “I wouldn’t say it’s a goal,” Pittman said. “I think that happens naturally with performance. And if it doesn’t happen this year, that’s no big deal. I mean, it’ll happen eventually. I just kind of…leave that to my agent.”
  • Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard missed making an All-Pro team for the first time in his career last season due to a combination of a concussion and the recurrence of a back injury that kept him out of 14 games. New head coach Shane Steichen gave a minor update on the situation, according to Nate Atkins of the Indianapolis Star, saying that Leonard is “progressing well,” but Steichen did not give a timetable for when Leonard might return. Indianapolis is staying optimistic but patient, something that is crucial when dealing with the tricky nature of back injuries.

Stephon Gilmore Requested Trade From Colts?

It came as something of a surprise when the Colts traded Stephon Gilmore to the Cowboys in March. After all, Indianapolis just signed the 2019 DPOY to a two-year, $20MM contract last year, and he was a rare bright spot in a generally disappointing 2022 season for the club.

Plus, while Gilmore’s age (he is entering his age-33 season) and contract status did not help matters, the Colts’ return of a fifth-round pick seemed underwhelming in light of Gilmore’s 2022 performance and overall track record. GM Chris Ballard later conceded that the trade was partly motivated by cap considerations, and we have since learned that Gilmore may have actually requested a trade out of Indianapolis.

Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner suggested as much, saying, “Gilly is at a different point in his career than I am. He just finished up Year 11, and I’m going into Year 9, so you know, if I was in his position, maybe I would have considered the same thing” (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star). “That’s the best decision that he made for him and his family, and I’m all for it.”

It seems, then, that Gilmore was the one who set the wheels of a trade in motion, and he did so in order to play for a team that has more of a chance to compete for a championship in 2023, and perhaps beyond. Gilmore does have a Super Bowl ring from his time with the Patriots, though it makes sense that he would want a shot at another title and does not see the Colts — who appear poised to start either a rookie or a bridge passer at quarterback in 2023 — as an immediate contender.

The Gilmore trade does leave Indianapolis rather thin at the CB position, the team’s reported optimism about its incumbents notwithstanding. If Ballard hits on his expected selection of a QB with his top choice in this month’s draft, The Colts could quickly reemerge as championship hopefuls. However, Buckner — who also lived through a rebuild during the early part of his career with the 49ers — does not appear willing to do the same in Indianapolis.

“I hate that word (rebuild),” Buckner said. “My rookie year in San Francisco, we went 2-14, the coach got fired, we brought in Kyle [Shanahan] and the majority of the roster was gone. Brought in new guys, and it took a couple of years. … We were building a team, a culture and all of that, but I was a young player, so I was able to grind through those tough years. … As you get older, rebuild’s definitely not a word you want to hear.”

Buckner, who recently agreed to a restructure to provide the Colts with 2023 cap relief, is under contract through 2024. However, he is scheduled to carry a $22.8MM cap number next year, and depending on what Indianapolis’ future looks like at the end of the upcoming season, he may not be particularly amenable to an extension that would smooth out that charge.