GREEN BAY, Wis. – Stephon Gilmore to the Green Bay Packers?
That talk was fun while it lasted – which wasn’t for long.
Just hours after he became available from the New England Patriots, the Carolina Panthers acquired the former All-Pro cornerback for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 draft. While that seems like an outrageously low price for the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Gilmore is 31, coming off quad surgery and will be a free agent at the end of the season. That makes this, give or take, a half-year rental.
So, Carolina, like Green Bay a top NFC contender after a 3-1 start, rolled the dice that Gilmore can still deliver high-quality coverage.
The Packers did add a cornerback before practice, signing former third-round pick Rasul Douglas off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad.
The 6-foot-2 Douglas was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. He played three years for the Eagles (2017-19) and one season for the Carolina Panthers (2020), appearing in 60 games with 29 starts. Douglas has five interceptions and 34 passes defensed.
The Packers, with the status of All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander in doubt after he sustained a shoulder injury against Pittsburgh, seemed like a logical destination for Gilmore. In fact, Gilmore reportedly wanted to play for Green Bay.
“I’ve heard he wants to play for the Packers,” SI.com’s Albert Breer said on Boston radio station 98.5 on Wednesday, “and I’ve heard there might have been some communication via some high-profile players.”
For what it's worth, the Packers sent a sixth-round pick in the 2022 draft to the Houston Texans for a full-year rental of Randall Cobb.
In his 10th NFL season, Gilmore is a four-time Pro Bowler. He earned All-Pro honors in 2018, when he had two interceptions and 20 passes defensed, and 2019, when he led the NFL in interceptions (six) and passes defensed (20).
Gilmore had one interception and just three passes defensed in 11 games last season, his season cut short by the quad injury and resulting surgery that had him on the Patriots’ physically unable to perform list to start this season.
However, it’s perhaps worth noting that Gilmore went from 41.8 percent completions and 4.9 yards per target in 2018, to 45.3 percent and 6.4 yards per target in 2019 to 60.0 percent and 7.7 yards per target in 2020, according to Sports Info Solutions.
One team’s top personnel man, alluding to the Packers’ troubles at cornerback with Alexander’s shoulder injury, Kevin King’s injury history and inconsistent play, and Chandon Sullivan’s poor play to start this season, thought general manager Brian Gutekunst should swing for the fences, even with its cap problems.
“If I were Green Bay, I’d do it,” he said. “Their secondary is weak, they have a deep playoff offense and not a great pass rush. You better be able to cover.”
In April 2019, Gilmore tweeted that Packers receiver Davante Adams “has the best release game” in the NFL. On Wednesday, following Gilmore posting his goodbye on social media, Adams responded, “Call me.”
“I am grateful to Stephon Gilmore for his significant contributions to our team,” Belichick said in a statement. “It was a privilege and a pleasure to coach Steph, I appreciate him for the true professional and class act that he is and wish him all the best in the future.”