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FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 04: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots lines up during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Multiple reports have emerged that shed more light on the New England Patriots’ sudden decision to release cornerback Stephon Gilmore Wednesday morning.

Gilmore, 31, issued a statement to his Twitter account thanking the Patriots for his time with the team. But if the Patriots do end up releasing him, the move won’t be official until the 4 p.m. deadline for transactions.

Because of that, what the Patriots ultimately do with Gilmore remains up in the air. But it’s clear that, based on Gilmore’s own reaction, his days as a Patriot are coming to an end.

Here’s a rundown of all the fresh details coming out about Gilmore’s departure from New England and what may be next.

  • 'A Catch-22'

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 29: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to facing the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots warms up prior to facing the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 29, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    The Patriots may have mishandled the whole situation, based on the mere fact that they ended up having to cut Gilmore in the middle of the season. But they were also in a tough spot, having spent almost completely up to the cap ($54,000 in space) and clashing with a player who was coming off major quad surgery, seeking a lucrative new contract, and unwilling to give the team any more financial relief.

    And at the same time, the Patriots weren’t about to pay Gilmore what he wanted without seeing him on the field first. That stalemate was one of the biggest catalysts for the split.

    A source close to Gilmore told Josina Anderson: “It was a catch 22. They wouldn’t pay him until [he was] healthy, but they also wanted him to play 75-80 percent.”

    ESPN’s Mike Reiss also acknowledged “salary cap, contract, and injury” as the three main factors that led to the impasse and Gilmore’s pending release.

  • Jamie Collins Reunion

    CINCINNATI, OHIO - DECEMBER 15: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots leaves the field after the Patriots defeated the Bengals 34-13 in the game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)

    CINCINNATI, OHIO – DECEMBER 15: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots leaves the field after the Patriots defeated the Bengals 34-13 in the game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)

    The Patriots needed to create cap space just to get through the second half of the season, with more additions and possible trades still to come. Another move they seemingly need relief for is an impending reunion with linebacker Jamie Collins.

    According to Ian Rapoport in an appearance on Good Morning Football, the Patriots are moving aggressively to sign Collins, and approached Gilmore about again restructuring his contract. That was a no-go.

    “This situation really came to a head in the last couple of days. The Patriots want to sign Jamie Collins, or [are] set to sign Jamie Collins, just needed some cap space to do it,” Rapoport said. “Sounds like they had some conversations with Stephon Gilmore’s agent about redoing his contract and creating some cap space, and he was, from what I understand, not really willing to do that, unless he got something for it.”

    It’s curious that the Patriots seem to be operating as if there’s no other player on the roster who would be willing or able to restructure his contract. It had to be Gilmore?

    Either way, Gilmore’s release should create about $5.8 million in cap space. The Patriots are off the hook for the whole contract, since Gilmore was on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Plenty of room to sign Collins, and make additional moves as the season goes on.

  • Shopping Around

    FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots deflects a pass intended for Dede Westbrook #12 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fouorth quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots deflects a pass intended for Dede Westbrook of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Mass. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, the Patriots “shopped” Gilmore to “a small group of teams they trust” on Monday, in a last-ditch effort to make a trade. You can reasonably speculate that the 49ers, Lions, and Texans would be among those teams.

    That a deal didn’t happen reveals a detail that should not be overlooked: is anyone¬†willing to pay Gilmore what he wants?

    Gilmore’s name has come up in trade rumors on a number of occasions over the past two years. He became especially hard to move after tearing his quad and undergoing major surgery. But Gilmore’s quad is reportedly “good” now, and a holdup still exists because of teams’ unwillingness to pay both big draft capital and a big contract to a 31-year-old cornerback.

    Technically, a trade could still take place, since the release wouldn’t become official until 4 p.m. Wednesday. So perhaps the Patriots can find a team who doesn’t want to risk Gilmore hitting the open market, and can end up getting something out of the deal. But it’s certainly not going to be as high a draft pick as it could’ve been had the Pats made the move between the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

  • What's Next For Gilmore And The Patriots

    Sep 19, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots defensive back J.C. Jackson (27) celebrates his interception with cornerback Jalen Mills (2) during the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 19, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey: New England Patriots defensive back J.C. Jackson (27) celebrates his interception with cornerback Jalen Mills (2) during the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

    If Gilmore hits the open market, Josina Anderson believes he is seeking at least $15 million per year. Teams with injuries or general needs at cornerback could come calling, particularly contending teams like the Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Packers.

    For the Patriots, the (financial) attention turns to J.C. Jackson. The fourth-year pro is playing on a restricted free agent tender and is off to another productive start, with two interceptions and four total pass breakups in four games. He most recently allowed seven catches for 75 yards to Bucs receiver Mike Evans, but kept Evans out of the end zone in the Patriots’ “bend but don’t break” approach.

    Based on his performance over the past season and change, Jackson is in line for a massive bump in pay and should fetch his share of interest in free agency. If the Patriots want to keep him beyond 2021, they may need Jackson to play ball with them at the negotiating table in a way that Gilmore no longer wanted to do.

    If the Patriots end up moving on from Jackson, they would be left with Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams, and Shaun Wade at outside cornerback. Jonathan Jones remains under team control as their top slot corner.