Pros and Cons of Trading for Stephon Gilmore

Read more on the pros and cons of trading for New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore
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New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore is like that proverbial red apple just hanging there for the taking in the Garden of Eden. 

He is so tempting ...

He was first-team All-Pro in 2018 and 2019 and the '19 AP Defensive Player of the Year. Somebody pinch me. 

Is there really a chance for Detroit's Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn to grab their mentor Bill Belichick's most coveted defensive back and slip him into Honolulu Blue?  

That will depend on one thing and one thing only - - just how badly does Belichick want to move him? 

If he wants to move him, Detroit then becomes a likely destination. 

However, there are also reasons not to pull the trigger on this trade, if I were the GM of the Lions. 

When considering any trade, the first thing someone needs to do is turn on the most recent game film, because he may or may not be the same player he was in the past. 

Bill Parcells had a saying along those lines that I recall -- either you're getting better or you're getting worse, but nobody stays the same. 

I have watched every single defensive snap in 2020 for New England's defense, and here is what I've seen:

Scouting Report 

CB #24 Stephon Gilmore - 6-foot-1, 190 pounds 

Grade: B (Good player, but not elite; good enough to win with, however) 

Inconsistent pure cover corner and former All-Pro with excellent technique, above-average athletic ability and playing speed. Thirty years old. Shows he still has it, but he is giving up a lot of catches through the first six games this season. Too many catches. He is not showing he is a shutdown corner at this point of his career. 

One word defines him now: inconsistent. Shows, and flashes signs of still having all the ability, but he is noticeably and consistently showing signs that he is lacking the motivation to bring it. 

He is like having another coach on the field. Smart-looking football player. Seems to grasp what offenses are doing. Strong grasp of man and zone concepts. Can get physical. Likes to mix it up with receivers. Can jam and play bump-and-run man. Excellent coverage techniques, but he's starting to get sloppy, too, with three pass interference calls so far this season and one defensive holding. 

Can still flip hips and turn and run, but can end up in trail position on some crossing and deeper vertical routes. Is not showing burst or recovery gear to make up the difference. Can close quickly downhill. Sometimes, he stays in phase tightly and contends strongly, but then, at other times, he does not.  

Wants little-to-nothing to do with run support, unless he absolutely has to. If Belichick cannot motivate him to give everything, nobody probably can - - which is my primary concern. 

He has enough ability. I simply question his want. That is where the lapses are coming from, when giving up receptions and exuding a lack of focus on penalties. Half the time, he left me saying, "Wow," and half the other time, he left me scratching my head.

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Pros for Detroit to make the trade

1.) The future is now

If Gilmore is available, he could be part of an offer that is too good to refuse. 

With Patrica's affinity for former Patriots defensive players, combined with the fact Detroit has won three out of its last four, this move could make all the sense in the world to them at this point. If Detroit is going to make a real move in the standings, Gilmore could be enough to push them over the top. 

The reality is that Patricia and Quinn need to win now. This move may give them an even better chance to do that. Yes, there is the salary cap and a draft pick to consider, but all of Patricia's and Quinn's chips are up and none of those things may matter to either of them if they get fired. 

They are familiar with Gilmore, and he could help them save their jobs. That is a strong motivator to pull the trigger, providing they can convince ownership. 

2.) Gilmore is like having another coach on the field 

Gilmore shows a real grasp of man and zone concepts. 

This move can also allow Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin to get even more creative and flexible in his coverage calls.

3.) Politics 

The reality is Belichick has a lot to do with where Quinn and Patricia are today, and he will have a lot to do with where they are "tomorrow," if things do not work out in Detroit. 

If Belichick really wants to move Gilmore, these two are going to have a hard time saying no, and they will probably give their mentor a better draft pick than anyone else will because of these dynamics. 

If these two are out of work, one call from Belichick will probably do a lot to get them employed again. 

Cons of Detroit making the trade

1.) Draft capital 

The Lions only have five total draft picks next year now after the Everson Griffen trade, and they likely would have to give up their first-rounder in order to acquire Gilmore. It seems to me that the draft haul the Patriots would be expecting would all but eliminate the chance of Detroit dealing for him.

2.) He seems to be declining fast 

He has gone from being last season's AP Defensive Player of the Year, to giving up 10 catches while being targeted 15 times early on this season. That is alarming to me. 

To further that argument, in terms of analytics, Pro Football Focus did not have Gilmore ranked as a top-10 corner anymore, which directly correlates with what I am seeing on film in terms of his struggles this season. You just have to take a look at a couple of his plays from this year to realize that he's struggled. There was a corner blitz in New England's last game against San Francisco that was not at all impressive in terms of effort. There were also a couple of running plays in that game where he just kind of stood around. For instance, check out the Jeff Wilson 16-yard TD run in the second quarter. 

3.) The Lions are winning lately with what they have, and there is a lot to be said for team chemistry

Team chemistry is very much like a scientific formula, and adding someone new to the mix could really mess things up. Said another way, adding a cup of salt to a pie can really change the taste. The Lions have a good thing going right now, and I really question adding another player to the mix who seems to be losing his desire. 

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Lions Down to Five 2021 Draft Picks

Grading the Everson Griffen Trade

How the Lions' Defense Has Evolved since Bye Week

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