New England Patriots Trade All-Pro Cornerback Amid Contract Dispute

The New England Patriots are moving on from one of the best players in the NFL. On Wednesday, the Patriots announced they traded cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick. It was originally reported that the Patriots were going to cut Gilmore after the two sides couldn't agree to terms on a restructured contract.

Gilmore sent a message to Patriots fans Wednesday. "We enjoyed so much success together, and you have been an incredible inspiration for my individual achievements," Gilmore wrote. "... To Mr. [Robert] Kraft, the coaches, and the organization, thank you for providing me with this platform and allowing me to be part of greatness. Most of all, I want to thank my teammates who lined up next to me every Sunday with one goal in mind."

The Patriots were $54,000 under the salary cap, and trading Gilmore gave them $5.8 million of cap space. Gilmore was in the final season of his contract and had a $7 million base salary. He has yet to play a game this season due to being on the physically unable to perform list for a quad injury. He had surgery on his quad in December and has been with the team during the early stages of the year despite not being happy with his contract. 

"I just want what I'm worth, however that plays out. Every player should be paid what they're worth. That's just how it is," Gilmore told NFL reporter Josina Anderson in July. "Hopefully, we can find some common ground and get it situated." Gilmore signed with the Patriots in 2017 after spending his first five seasons with the Buffalo Bills. During his time with the Patriots, Gilmore was selected to the Pro Bowl three times and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. Gilmore recorded 53 tackles, six interceptions, and 20 passes defended with two defensive touchdowns in that season. Patriots fans will remember what Gilmore did in Super Bowl LIII, registering a late-game interception to secure the win over the Los Angeles Rams. 

The Bills selected Gilmore in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He put together five solid seasons in Buffalo, making the Pro Bowl in 2016 after posting 48 tackles and five interceptions. He played college football at the University of South Carolina.