Stephon Gilmore, Colts Agree to Reported 2-Year, $23M Contract in NFL Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 15, 2022

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 31: Stephon Gilmore #9 of the Carolina Panthers looks on during the game against the Atlanta Falcons  at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 31, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore told CBS Sports' Josina Anderson that he's agreed to a contract with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported it's a two-year deal worth $23 million with $14 million guaranteed.

In 2019, Gilmore was honored as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league in both interceptions (six) and pass breakups (20). The fact that he was immediately the subject of trade rumors during the subsequent offseason was a warning sign.

Gilmore was a Pro Bowler again in 2020 but only appeared in 11 games because of a knee injury and then a torn quad. His recovery from the latter prevented him from making his 2021 debut until Week 8, by which time the New England Patriots had traded him to the Carolina Panthers.

The 31-year-old vented his frustration with how the Patriots handled his rehab. He expressed to The Athletic's Joseph Person how he thought the organization was "doing more workouts than rehab, more working out like someone (who) was 100 percent healthy and in the offseason program."

Once finally on the field for Carolina, Gilmore made an immediate impact. He had an interception in each of his first two appearances.

Carolina Panthers @Panthers

GILMORE PICKS OFF MAC JONES!!!<br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: CBS <a href="https://t.co/q74N0fgvod">pic.twitter.com/q74N0fgvod</a>

He finished with 16 tackles, two interceptions and two pass breakups in eight games.

Despite the setbacks he encountered across 2020 and 2021, Gilmore was still one of the better cornerbacks on the market this offseason. He was the No. 21 overall free agent at ESPN and No. 11 at Pro Football Focus.

"From 2017 to 2019, Gilmore was the premier cornerback in the league while matching up against the NFL's best receivers in New England's man-coverage system," his PFF outlook read. "Scheme fit and his age are the big question marks moving forward."

Because of how the Panthers' season unraveled, it's a little difficult to judge Gilmore based on his time with the team. Carolina closed out the year on a seven-game losing streak.

Now that he's on the wrong end of the aging curve, a return to his dominant stretch with the Patriots might be too much to ask. Injuries have been a theme throughout his career as well. He has played a full season just three times over 10 years.

Even if Gilmore is about 80 percent of what he was in 2019, though, he'll be an effective addition to Indianapolis' secondary.

Xavier Rhodes left as a free agent, and Rock Ya-Sin was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders for Yannick Ngakoue. Together, the pair started 21 combined games in 2021.

Signing Brandon Facyson didn't go far enough toward addressing an obvious need at cornerback for the Colts. This is a franchise that's looking to contend for a Super Bowl right now, as evidenced by trading for a 36-year-old Matt Ryan.