Unless somebody inside of the Patriots organization staged an intervention for Belichick, I'm going to assume he still doesn't like paying his players a lot of money.
The New England Patriots head coach and defacto general manager Bill Belichick is a bargain hunter. We hardly ever see him pay market value, that's why it caught a lot of people off guard in 2017 when Belichick gave Stephon Gilmore a five year $65 million contract, considering Belichick refused to pay Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler. As DJ Siddiqi from Clutch Points, points out, the Patriots "don’t like to pay their players a lot of money." That's why the question has now been asked, could Stephon Gilmore end up on the trade block?
I get that the question sounds crazy. Despite a rocky start to his tenure with the New England Patriots, Gilmore has established himself as the best cover corner in the NFL. The Patriots defense played at elite levels last season, and I think it's fair to say that Gilmore was the staple of that defense. Week after week Gilmore would put on clinics against top quarterbacks and the NFL's best receivers. Let's also not discount that the 29-year-old Gilmore is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, coming off a season where the Patriots defense only surrendered 13 passing touchdowns, and only allowed a league best 14.1 points per game.
So, considering everything we just said about Gilmore is true, and this isn't just a take from a delusional Patriots fan boy, how could anybody even suggest that Belichick would ship Gilmore out of New England? Siddiqi hit it right on the head when he said "Gilmore is due for (a) big pay raise".
Gilmore has two years left on his contract and he'll be 31-years-old when he hits unrestricted free agency, and there will be teams lining up to acquire Gilmore. In fact, when you look at his current contract now, Gilmore is a huge bargain at $65 million. Tom Brady leaving this season is also a factor. If Belichick doesn't see his team as Super Bowl contenders this season or next, Belichick may find it more beneficial to move on from Gilmore now, rather than pay an ageing corner, or lose him for nothing more than a third round draft pick in 2022.
I'm not smart enough to come up with these ideas on my own. Here's what Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer said about it:
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore,” Breer wrote in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column.“New England needs cap space—and Gilmore has an $18.67 million cap hit for this year and a $19.67 million cap hit for next year, after a 2019 restructure. But he’s only taking home $11 million in cash this year, $12 million next year, and, after that, he’s up. Gilmore’s deal, at $13 million per year, was near the top of the corner market when he signed it.Since then, he’s gotten better, and the market for defensive players has exploded. He’s now around $10 million per year short of fellow DPOYs Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald. And it stands to reason that if the Pats went to him looking for cap relief, he’d want something in return—and he might want a correction anyway. He’s New England’s best player. He turns 30 in September. The Patriots are retooling. If you’re a corner-needy team, you might want to give them a call just to check in.”
Why Patriots Could Trade Gilmore
At this point, it is really no surprise that the Patriots would allow a star player to walk. Bill Belichick just allowed Tom Brady — the greatest player in NFL history — to walk out the door. In other words, no single player is untouchable in the Patriots’ organization. Once you reach a certain age and a certain salary benchmark, it’s safe to assume Belichick will either allow you to walk or simply trade you.
It needs to be made clear that there aren't any rumors of Gilmore being traded, this just an interesting scenario to think about. Outside of being a sports fan, I am actually a trained social worker and motivational speaker. When I meet with clients I examine their past behaviors to try and determine their future behaviors. This is no different in this situation. Unless somebody inside of the Patriots organization staged an intervention for Belichick, I'm going to assume he still doesn't like paying his players a lot of money.
So as crazy as this sounds, Stephon Gilmore could be a prime trade candidate in the very near future.