Stephon Gilmore will resume his NFL career playing close to home with the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers announced Wednesday they sent a 2023 sixth-round draft pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for Gilmore.
Prior to the trade, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Patriots would release Gilmore after the two sides were unable to agree to terms on a restructured contract.
The Patriots placed Gilmore on the physically unable to perform list Aug. 31 with a quad injury. The move means he won't be eligible to play for his new team until after Week 6.
Gilmore suffered a partially torn quad during New England's Week 15 loss to the Miami Dolphins last season. His health will be a question mark, especially as a 31-year-old who plays a demanding position.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus cited several reasons why Gilmore may not be the difference-maker he has been at his best:
Sam Monson @PFF_Sam
Gilmore's 31 & coming off his worst year basically since he entered the league.<br><br>The number of teams playing as much pure man as the Patriots is smaller by the year.<br><br>I'm not sure the market for him is gonna be the flames people expect it to be. That's not an insignificant gamble
Per PFF's metrics, Gilmore ranked 64th among cornerbacks in 2020 with a 58.5 coverage grade in 632 snaps. By comparison, he had grades over 80.0 in each of the three previous seasons.
Even with those caveats, Gilmore isn't far removed from being an elite player at a position where every team seems to need help. He became the first cornerback in 10 years to be named Defensive Player of the Year when he won the award in 2019.
Gilmore led the NFL with 20 pass breakups and six interceptions in his award-winning season. He had at least 12 pass breakups four times in five seasons from 2015 to 2019.
If Gilmore can play close to the level he was at before 2020, the Panthers will have added a dynamic playmaker in the secondary who can help slow down the opposing team's passing game.
It's rare that cornerbacks with Gilmore's ability become available. The Panthers took advantage of this opportunity as they look to compete for a playoff spot.
Cornerback has become an area of need for the Panthers with rookie Jaycee Horn expected to miss two to three months with a broken bone in his foot.
Carolina has been aggressively loading up on defensive backs dating back to selecting Horn with the No. 8 pick in the draft. The team acquired 2020 first-rounder CJ Henderson from the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.
Gilmore, who grew up in South Carolina and played college football for the Gamecocks, will have the chance to help the surprising Panthers make the postseason.
When Horn and Gilmore get healthy, they could be a dynamic cornerback tandem that can cause problems for opposing quarterbacks.
Playing in the same division as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have three outstanding receivers and Rob Gronkowski at tight end, necessitates depth in the secondary.
The addition of Gilmore gives head coach Matt Rhule options with his defense when all of his players get back.