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The New England Patriots reportedly decided to release All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Wednesday morning, but by Wednesday afternoon the situation had turned around. Instead, Patriots traded him to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round draft pick.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 6, 2021
The Patriots' decision to move on from Gilmore isn't entirely shocking. There has been tension brewing between Gilmore and the Pats for quite some time now.
Gilmore, 31, has been dealing with a quad injury since the 2020 season. He played 11 games last year, and entered the 2021 season dissatisfied with his contract situation. His base salary was around $7 million, which is about half of what cornerbacks of his talent level are making. Gilmore and the Patriots weren't able to come to a resolution, so he sat out mandatory minicamp in June and was fined $94,000.
Still unable to come to an agreement, the Pats placed Gilmore on the physically unable to perform list a month later when he reported for training camp.
The #Patriots were open to giving Stephon Gilmore a raise, but wanted to see him healthy. Instead, he went on the PUP list as he recovers from his quad injury. That tension lasted… until his release today.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 6, 2021
Gilmore, a three-time All-Pro and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, emblazoned himself on the hearts of New England fans everywhere when he intercepted the Los Angeles Rams' Jared Goff late in Super Bowl LIII, sealing the Patriots' eventual 13-3 win.
Gilmore was already connected to several teams before his trade to the Panthers was announced. Josina Anderson reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were interested in him, and that made sense as a destination. That's where his former teammate, Tom Brady, plays, and where several Patriots castoffs have found a new home. Gilmore was also reportedly interested in joining the Green Bay Packers. Instead, the Patriots sent him "home" to Carolina.
Source told me today Stephon Gilmore was interested in coming back home. Patriots wanted news of his release out early to leverage a possible trade, but they were always going to send him to a desirable place. Carolina meets that criteria.
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) October 6, 2021
Gilmore says goodbye to New England
Gilmore posted a note on Instagram, saying goodbye and thank you to Patriots fans and team owner Robert Kraft.
Head coach Bill Belichick released a statement thanking Gilmore for his contributions to the team.