In the end, the Patriots sent Stephon Gilmore to a team that would make him happy.
The Rock Hill, South Carolina native grew up watching the Panthers. Future teammate Tom Brady likely ripped his heart out in Super Bowl XXXVIII, when Gilmore was 13 years old. Now he gets to don the same uniform as players he watched like Steve Smith, Julius Peppers, and Jake Delhomme. So when Gilmore says he wanted to be a Panther, it doesn’t ring hollow.
”This is a place I always wanted to play,” Gilmore told reporters Thursday in an introductory press conference. “Looking at the team and what they got and the potential, obviously you’ve got to put in a lot of hard work to get to where you want to go, but for sure I thought it was a great opportunity that I would come here.”
The move itself, and Gilmore’s comments on Thursday, reflect a relatively peaceful business “battle” between the two sides. Technically, Gilmore won, because he ended up with a 3-1 team in the state where he grew up and because the Patriots ended up trading the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year for a 2023 sixth-round pick.
“It’s no hard feelings, it’s business,” Gilmore said. “It happens all the time. I had good years there, and I’m happy to be a Panther now.”
Stephon Gilmore speaks to the media on Thursday https://t.co/vcXg0Y62nX— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 7, 2021
There’s a chance – and this isn’t being hypothesized enough by those willing to share their opinions – that Gilmore simply isn’t the same player he was two years ago, or before his recent quad injury. The Patriots had little way to know, anyway, without first getting him on the field. So it’s understandable that they’d balk at a top-of-the-market extension. But Gilmore almost certainly has to be worth more than a sixth-round pick, even at this stage in his career.
The Patriots obviously missed whatever opportunity they had to maximize Gilmnore as a trade asset, but this is also a case of a player possibly overvaluing himself. Gilmore said he and the Panthers have not discussed an extension, so he could be on track to become a free agent once again. That’s when he may find out that no one was willing to give him the reported $15 million AAV he wants in the first place.
This is what happens when a player doesn’t blink in a negotiation. Gilmore may not get what he wants financially, but he got a nice, comfortable landing spot for the rest of 2021. And the Patriots ended up cutting their losses and moving on with the post-Gilmore era, which, as it turns out, has been going on for almost a year now.
No hard feelings. But a hard reality of the business for everyone involved.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.