Stephon Gilmore is set to make his Panthers debut. The team is planning to activate the All-Pro cornerback off the PUP for tomorrow’s game against the Falcons, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter).
Per Fowler (on Twitter), Gilmore had been “trending” towards playing this weekend. The team practiced today, and the cornerback apparently showed enough to justify his activation. The Panthers opened Gilmore’s practice window earlier this month, so the player’s season debut was always going to come sooner than later.
At the beginning of the month, the Panthers sent the Pats a sixth-round pick and took on the contract-year corner’s remaining $5.8MM in base salary. While the organization will still have to figure out a long-term pact for the former Defensive Player of the Year, the move was a worthy risk. At his best, Gilmore was one of the best defenders in the NFL during his first few seasons in New England. 2020 was a down year for the veteran, although a quad injury likely played a role in his reduced production.
October 18th, 2021 at 11:24am CST by Zachary Links
The Panthers are set to open Stephon Gilmore’s practice window this week (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Once he’s off of the PUP list, the cornerback will be one step closer to making his 2021 debut.
It’s not clear whether Gilmore will be ready to go for Week 7 against the Giants, but he should be ready to go sometime soon. Gilmore could probably use some extra time to prepare after months of rehab on his torn quad.
Gilmore didn’t get to pick his team, but things worked out pretty well for him. The Pats were initially set to release Gilmore before they shipped him to the Panthers — a “dream come true” for the South Carolina native.
“I always wanted to [play for the Panthers], growing up as a kid,” Gilmore said (via the team website). “Some things you can’t control. But I always thought about it as a kid, and you always dreamed about it. But it happened, and I’m happy it happened.”
Once Gilmore returns, he’ll team with Donte Jackson to solidify the Panthers’ secondary.
After four seasons with the Patriots, Stephon Gilmore is now on the Panthers’ PUP list. The Pats ended the All-Pro cornerback’s contract saga by trading him, but they did offer a restructure of sorts in an effort to retain the standout cover man.
New England offered Gilmore a restructure, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, though it sounds like this was to be an incentive-laden pay bump. Gilmore taking home more cash than his $7MM 2021 base salary would have hinged on his participation and performance level, Garafolo adds (video link).
Rather than a true extension, it appears New England continued its approach of incentive proposals. The Pats did this with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski in 2018. The Pats gave Gilmore a pay raise in 2020, but the sides could not agree on terms that would have kept him in Massachusetts for the remainder of this season.
Gilmore joining the likes of ex-Patriot stalwarts Lawyer Milloy and Richard Seymour in being dealt rather than given an extension that would have covered their early-30s seasons represents a potential impact decision for the Panthers, who acquired the 31-year-old corner for a mere sixth-round pick in 2023. They were far from the only Gilmore suitor.
The Pats made it known they were prepared to cut Gilmore. Rather than take their chances at winning a free agency battle, the Panthers sent the Pats a pick and took on the contract-year corner’s remaining $5.8MM in base salary. Gilmore’s salary dissuaded other teams from making trade proposals, but Garafolo notes recruiting pitches — some from star quarterbacks — came in. Top QBs sent Gilmore texts about potential free agency deals, but the Panthers did not let this process reach that point. The Packers were one of the teams interested, with Davante Adams being one of their lead recruiters.
The 10th-year defender is expected to come off Carolina’s PUP list in Week 6. He has not participated in practice since suffering a torn quad last season, but the Panthers will count on the former Defensive Player of the Year to lead their cornerback contingent — one that may be down Jaycee Horn for the rest of the season. Horn is not yet shut down, however. The Pats are moving forward with J.C. Jackson and free agent acquisition Jalen Mills as their top boundary corners. Mills, however, will miss Week 5 due to injury.
Stephon Gilmore didn’t get to pick his team, but he couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. Hours after being traded from the Patriots, the cornerback told the team website that playing for the Panthers is a “dream come true.”
“I always wanted to, growing up as a kid,” Gilmore said. “Some things you can’t control. But I always thought about it as a kid, and you always dreamed about it. But it happened, and I’m happy it happened.”
Gilmore spent years pushing the Patriots for a new contract. Ultimately, in vintage Pats fashion, they chose to move on instead. For his part, Gilmore has agreed to table talks until after the season. After that, it sounds like he’d be pretty open to staying in Carolina.
“I think so,” said Gilmore when asked if he’d have signed with the Panthers if he was released this week. “This is a place I always wanted to play. Looking at the team and what they’ve got, the potential. Obviously, you have to put in a lot of hard work to get to where you want to go. For sure, I think it was a great opportunity I would come here.”
Ideally, the Panthers would like to retain both Gilmore and 25-year-old corner Donte Jackson this spring. In the meantime, Gilmore is strictly focused on returning to the field. Still on the PUP list with a quad injury, Gilmore hopes to debut sometime in the next few weeks.
After acquiring former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmorefrom the Patriots, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer said the team would not immediately extend their acquisition. However, that doesn’t mean the doesn’t intend to eventually sign their acquisition. Per Jeff Howe and Joseph Person of The Athletic, “the Panthers’ intention is to sign Gilmore to a contract extension.”
The organization understands that they’ll have to pay up if they hope to keep Gilmore in Carolina for the long haul. Before they make that pricey investment, the team wants to see what Gilmore looks like on the field. The star cornerback missed five games last year and is guaranteed to miss the first six this season due to a quadriceps injury he sustained late in 2020. The team sounds optimistic that Gilmore will return once his six-week stint on the PUP comes to an end, but the front office is still being fiscally responsible before handing out an extension.
Per Howe and Person, Gilmore’s contract issues with the Patriots apparently won’t travel to Carolina. The cornerback “will report to the Panthers and won’t demand a new contract before suiting up.” The veteran also wants to assure that “the defensive fit is as strong as it appears on paper” before committing long-term to the organization.
The Athletic piece has plenty of other notable details regarding the Gilmore trade. Specifically, while the Packers had previously been connected to the cornerback, apparently a pair of AFC teams made offers to the Patriots, and those two squads dissuaded the Panthers from making a run at Gilmore in free agency (and persuaded them to make a trade).
The Packers did try to acquire Gilmore, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, who notes the team explored ways to add his contract. Gilmore’s expiring deal has $5.8MM remaining this season; the Packers have just more than $7MM in cap space.
While the team could have afforded Gilmore, it would have been up against the cap. The Packers made contact with the Patriots once their desire to move on became known, per Demovsky, who adds the 10th-year corner wanted a monster extension to go with any trade. Considering how little the Patriots received for Gilmore without the extension requirement, this demand was quickly dropped. Gilmore, per SI.com’s Albert Breer, wanted to play for the Packers (video link via 98.5 The Sports Hub). But he ended up in Carolina, which has now acquired Gilmore and 2020 first-round corner C.J. Henderson.
Green Bay did make a move at corner Wednesday, signing Rasul Douglas off Arizona’s practice squad. The Packers have Jaire Alexander expected to miss at least Week 5, and it sounds like a longer absence is in play. Matt LaFleur said the team will try to avoid its top corner undergoing surgery “at all costs,” via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (on Twitter), but it remains to be seen when Alexander will be ready to return. Alexander suffered a shoulder injury late in the Packers’ Week 4 win over the Steelers. Shoulder surgery likely would end Alexander’s season and deal a huge blow to Green Bay’s Super Bowl aspirations.
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.
The Patriots have traded cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers. In exchange, the Panthers will send a 2023 sixth-rounder to New England.
Gilmore was set to be released by the Patriots, but Bill Belichick & Co. managed to find a trade instead. The 31-year-old will now help replace first-round pick Jaycee Horn, who is out with a broken foot. Gilmore, the 2019 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, now headlines a Panthers CB group with Donte Jackson, former top-10 pick C.J. Henderson, A.J. Bouye, and Rashaan Melvin.
Gilmore will be eligible to play after Week 6, pending the status of his quad injury. That means he could debut as soon as Week 7, when the Panthers face the Giants in New Jersey.
Gilmore spent his first five years with the Bills before moving on to the Patriots in 2017. He went on to win a ring with the Pats in 2018 and took his game to a whole new level in ’19, en route to DPOY honors. After notching a career-high six interceptions, Gilmore wanted a new contract to reflect his performance and the dramatic uptick in the CB market.