Bill Belichick reportedly considered trading Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore this offseason.
It wasn’t long ago that media members were speculating that the New England Patriots could be in the running for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft next season.
That sentiment, as disrespectful as it was to head coach Bill Belichick, was marginally understandable as the team was left without a quarterback following Tom Brady’s departure. It also lost a shipment of starters on defense to free agency.
The sheer uncertainty regarding the Patriots’ ceiling in 2020 prompted fans to consider if they should blow up the roster and work on establishing a new core. As history has taught us, trading stars on expensive contracts would have gone a long way in doing just that.
Therefore, it’s not entirely surprising that Belichick, according to NFL reporter Albert Breer, explored a deal for cornerback Stephon Gilmore this offseason. Because of the aforementioned variables the de facto general manager had to consider, fans in New England shouldn’t be faulting him for shopping the perennial All-Pro.
“I’m told that on least two separate occasions, the Patriots floated his name in trade talks, both before the Draft and during training camp,” Breer told NBC Sports Boston leading up to kickoff on Sunday.
“There was a point where they had less than $1 million underneath the salary cap. Stephon Gilmore was one of the few people they could go to who could make a significant difference there, and I can tell you this: He wasn’t going to renegotiate his contract.”
We didn’t even mention the Patriots’ salary cap space before! Remember how debilitating their financial situation was at the start of the offseason? Before a few things fell in their favor — like winning a few financial grievances and eight player opt outs — NE had hardly any (less than $1 million!) wiggle room.
At the time, Gilmore was the Patriots’ second-highest paid player behind Joe Thuney before the cornerback was rightfully awarded close to a $5 million raise ahead of Week 1. Connect the dots, folks. It’s pretty easy to see why Belichick was considering unloading him.
Assuming that Belichick floated the reigning Defensive Player of the Year’s name in trade discussions before his defense became even further decimated following a string of player opt outs ahead of training camp proves that he shouldn’t be chastised for doing so.
We love that Gilmore ended up staying, but considering the state of the team back in March, you really can’t blame the six-time champion for exploring a way to shed salary and stockpile some draft capital. Nobody knew Cam Newton was going to be a free agent for 86 nights.