The Carolina Panthers added a defensive player of the year to their secondary.
The Panthers traded a 2023 sixth-round pick to the New England Patriots for All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Wednesday. Gilmore, 31, won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2019 with New England.
The Patriots attempted to trade Gilmore, who is still on the PUP list, earlier in the week but couldn’t initially find a buyer to take on his $7 million prorated salary. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday morning that the Patriots would release Gilmore as a move to save cap space.
A source told PFF that a trade could still come together after Wednesday’s report, and that’s exactly what happened when the Panthers pulled off a deal for Gilmore on Wednesday afternoon.
The Panthers and Stephon Gilmore do not have a long-term deal in place at the time of today's trade, per source. Gilmore comes to Carolina with a deal around $5.8 million.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) October 6, 2021
This is the second trade Carolina has made for a cornerback this season. They also acquired 2020 first-round pick C.J. Henderson after 2021 first-round pick Jaycee Horn broke his foot late last month.
Gilmore, like Horn, is a South Carolina Gamecocks product. He was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Gilmore remains on the PUP list with a quad injury and can’t play until after Week 6 of the 2021 season.
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The Panthers add yet another cornerback who is capable of holding his own in man coverage following the loss of Jaycee Horn to a broken foot. The additions of Horn, Gilmore and C.J. Henderson over the past few months highlight a clear shift in philosophy for Carolina, which is backed by their man coverage rate jumping from 18% in 2020 (29th) to 30% (13th) so far this season.
Gilmore will likely start opposite Donte Jackson once he returns healthy from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.