Stephon Gilmore isn’t your typical mid-season free agent.
At this point in the regular season, the list of available free agents is frequently underwhelming. Even if a player has a solid reputation, he’s generally at the very end of his career or the reasons why he’s remained unsigned are clear to all. On Wednesday, however, the New England Patriots decided to put Stephon Gilmore on that list for reasons that are beyond us.
Which is why the K.C. Chiefs have to, at the very least, check in on a tremendous talent like Gilmore.
Adam Schefter’s stunning report that Gilmore is now going to be a free agent (as a vested veteran, he will not have to clear waivers like younger guys) is going to have the whole league talking on Wednesday. Every fan base is going to want to see if their team can sign Gilmore given his proven track record as a shutdown cornerback in the NFL.
For those who need a quick primer on Gilmore, he was a first-team All-Pro in both 2018 and 2019, including being named the overall Defensive Player of the Year in ’19. The former first-round pick has been a Pro Bowl performer in each of the last three seasons (and four times overall). Even more, he’s a former Super Bowl champion in 2018 with Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
What makes Gilmore even more special than the production that we’ve already highlighted earlier is the fact that no position is as mercurial as cornerback. None. From year to year, a list of the NFL’s best cornerbacks often feature more new names than familiar faces. The sample sizes from year to year are too small, and the quality of competition faced makes a huge difference. It’s also true that cornerback is just a very difficult position to play in the league that’s always adding rules in favor of offenses that are also continually getting more creative.
Gilmore, however, is the exception. Just like Patrick Peterson reigned on those lists for a half-decade or more, Gilmore is another name that is a steady force at a roller coaster of a position. There are very few players you can call a lockdown cornerback in the NFL for any real length of time, but Gilmore has been that guy. There’s a good reason why he looks at $16M in a contract year and nods to his agent that it’s time for a raise.
Let’s explore why the Patriots would even dump a talent like Gilmore at this point, and why he makes sense for the Chiefs to check in.