The New England Patriots, in the midst of their worst season since Tom Brady was just a guy buried on the depth chart, are looking to trade reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore. This is not a big surprise. Gilmore is a very good cornerback but has suffered from natural regression to the mean this season, and he is slated to count for $17 million against the cap next year. The timing makes perfect sense.
The trade deadline arrives at 4 p.m. ET today. ESPN's Dianna Russini reports the Pats are looking for at least a first-round pick and another player in exchange for Gilmore. That would be a great haul if there were any team in the NFL willing to meet it, but unfortunately, no team is that desperate. Not this year.
On the surface, a high pick and player seems like it should be the bare minimum requirement to acquire a DPOY-type talent. But Gilmore is not exactly a plug-and-play elite cornerback. What makes him great is his ability to be in the right place at the right time on nearly every snap, and then the ability to make the play once he's there. Gilmore doesn't do that with elite athleticism. It's his combination of smarts and physical tools that allows him to excel. That means that, should he end up with a new team at the deadline, there will be an adjustment period as he gets used to the new defensive schemes and calls.
That doesn't mean he wouldn't play well for his new team. It just means that he can't come in and make an immediate impact that would be worth a first-rounder and more. Gilmore isn't an elite edge-rusher who needn't understand the defense around him to get after the quarterback. The only way he would be worth a first is if a team's secondary is so bad that just adding a player of his talent level would make all the difference in the world. There aren't any contending teams with that problem.
Sure, there are squads with championship hopes that could certainly use an upgrade. But first-round picks are premium capital in the NFL. A great cornerback can be the difference between a championship and going home early, but no team who needs cornerback help needs it so badly they can justify burning a first-rounder. Especially in light of Gilmore's 2021 cap hit and the uncertainty surrounding the cap situation next year.
Players who win hardware like Gilmore has usually don't get traded, and when they do, it's a haul. But he's a special case in a bizarre season. It doesn't help that Bill Belichick has earned a reputation around the league for fleecing anybody willing to trade with him. New England should be ecstatic if anybody comes near their asking price, but holding their breath for a first will only result in disappointment.