Which Team Can Make a Huge Splash at the Cornerback Position?
By: Joe Pepe
The New England Patriots had their first season without Tom Brady in 2020, and the dynasty fell back to Earth. The Patriots went 7-9 and missed the playoffs this year with endless questions about their franchise and the future. Although the Patriots had a tough season as a whole, someone who shined through the massacred season was Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore is considered one of the best in the NFL at the cornerback position.
With such high honors comes a pay increase, something the Patriots will not contribute to this offseason with their star cornerback. So, where does Gilmore end up? What would teams have to give up to get this stud cornerback on their team? We have three teams that he could suit up for in 2021:
First up on this list is a former super Bowl opponent of the Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons. As the worse passing defense in the NFL, giving up 293 yards a game, the Falcons need to secure the back end of their defense to compete in the challenging NFL South in 2021. The Falcons would be able to dangle their early fourth overall draft pick as compensation for Gilmore. In this scenario, the Patriots would be moving up to draft their quarterback of the future to pair with Bill Belichick.
Dean Pees is the new defensive coordinator for the Falcons and would love to have one of the best cornerbacks in his arsenal. He has a history of a star ex-Patriot cornerback leading his defensive back room with Malcolm Butler. Butler was the number one cornerback with the Tennessee Titans while Pees was the defensive coordinator (2018-2019). Recreating that dynamic again in Atlanta would allow the Falcons to lock down the opponent’s number one option in the receiving game.
Cleveland shocked the world this year and made a deep run into the playoffs, where they held their own against the defending Super Bowl champion, Kansas City Chiefs. One of the areas of weakness for the Browns was their defenses, specifically the passing game. In 2020 they gave up 265.4 yards a game and 375 yards per game in their last three contest. This team is trending upwards, and if they could solidify their defense could make serious noise in the AFC next season. The big trade pieces that could be in play for Stephon Gilmore could be either of the big-name receivers, Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry.
The Seattle Seahawks were another team that struggled in the passing game as the 30th rank passing defense over 2020. In their last three games, they held opponents to 209 yards passing per game to the Seahawks credit. However, this was a weakness in their defensive scheme throughout the entire season. Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs would welcome Stephon Gilmore into his defense and allow the Seahawks to rebuild a Legion Of Boom 2.0.
This scenario would need some help with the team finagling some space in their cap to sign Gilmore to the extension he is seeking for his future NFL team. Another issue with this scenario is the Seattle Seahawks draft capital. They only own a second, fourth, and fifth-round selection in the 2021 draft, which makes this deal less likely to happen in the future.
Can Other Teams Land Stephon Gilmore?
There are plenty of other teams that will also call the Patriots general manager, Bill Belichick. Some other franchises that could be on the phone would be the Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, and Arizona Cardinals. Regardless of where Gilmore plays in 2021, we know his ability on the field. The team that ends up with this talented corner will exponentially increase the talent of their defense.