One of the more notable names that has popped up among the myriad of NFL trade rumors over the past week is New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year would bolster the Super Bowl aspirations of any contending team willing to pony up what is likely to be a steep asking price. A number of events that have played out over the past week would seem to suggest that Bill Belichick may very well wind up parting with the best player on his defense before the NFL trade deadline.
Gilmore was held out of Sunday’s critical AFC East showdown against the Buffalo Bills after reportedly injuring his knee during the week of practice leading up to the game. The Patriots nearly pulled out a victory in Buffalo without him, but with the ultimate loss dropping the team’s record to 2-5, any hope of contending in the 2020-21 season seems bleak. On top of these football-related developments, Gilmore notably put his Foxborough home up for sale last week. Perhaps the all-pro has already found a new location. Or maybe he already knows that his current home, located just five minutes away from Gillette Stadium, will no longer fit his professional needs.
At any rate, there seems to be a real chance that the Patriots will keep the presidential election from being the only marquee news on Tuesday. Here are three teams who would benefit mightily from pursuing the best corner in football.
Possible Stephon Gilmore Trade Destinations | NFL Trade Deadline
After a 5-0 start, the Titans have now dropped back-to-back games and find themselves in a dogfight with the Indianapolis Colts atop the AFC South. Pass defense has been a major point of weakness for Mike Vrabel’s team throughout the first half of the season. Tennessee corners Malcolm Butler, Johnathan Joseph, and Chris Jackson have been beaten badly on more than one occasion by opposing wide receivers. What should have been a get-right game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8 turned into a 249-yard, 2-touchdown performance for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow as three Bengals receivers usurped 65 yards on the day.
The Titans offense is one of the best in the NFL, but in order to legitimize their status as an AFC and Super Bowl contender, the defense needs to be better. It would be a tight squeeze on the team financially given their current salary cap situation, but the Titans would undoubtedly benefit from adding a defensive star like Stephon Gilmore at the NFL trade deadline.
**The Titans have traded for CB Desmond King, making a Stephon Gilmore trade unlikely**
New Orleans Saints
The Saints window to win is closing with quarterback Drew Brees possibly retiring as soon as the end of the 2020-21 season. New Orleans is 5-2 following their gut-check Week 8 triumph over the Chicago Bears. With that said, the Saints could benefit mightily from beefing up their defensive secondary at the NFL trade deadline, and what better way to do that than making a push for the reigning NFL DPOY, Stephon Gilmore?
New Orleans has a top-10 adjusted defensive efficiency according to Football Outsiders DVOA, but the Saints only rank 16th in pass defense through their first seven games. The Saints have only held two opposing QBs below 250 yards passing all season: Tom Brady in Week 1 and Matthew Stafford in Week 4, with the latter making up for it by throwing 3 touchdown passes. Acquiring Gilmore would provide the finishing piece to a secondary that already includes a slew of accomplished players in Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins, and Malcolm Jenkins. Like Tennessee, the Saints would have to maneuver some cap space in order to pay Gilmore. The payoff of doing so in this instance cannot be understated.
This might be a surprise choice to some, but I could see Bill Belichick disciple Matt Patricia and the Lions making a run at Gilmore. Unlike the Titans and Saints, Detroit has over $14 million in cap space to play with. They’d be able to pay Gilmore without having to maneuver their payroll significantly. One cause for concern is fact that the Lions already traded for defensive end Everson Griffen which has left them with only five remaining 2021 draft picks to barter with. On the flip side, the Lions have a slew of intriguing young talent that might suffice in an NFL trade deadline deal for Stephon Gilmore as well.
Situation-wise, the Lions still have everything in front of them this season even at 3-4 through the first eight weeks. No team has really emerged as a dominant force in the NFC, and Detroit will have the opportunity to avenge early-season divisional losses against the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears down the stretch. They also play the Minnesota Vikings twice and draw two other very winnable games against the Washington Football Team and Houston Texans, to say the Lions can’t make a postseason run is foolish. It’s debatable whether such a run is possible with rookie Jeff Okudah operating as the team’s top cover corner. What’s not debatable is the fact that adding Gilmore to the secondary at the NFL trade deadline would be a total game-changer.