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And So it Begins: Stephon Gilmore is Rumored to Have Put His House on the Market

WEEI - As was first reported on The Greg Hill Show, Stephon Gilmore officially put his Foxboro home on the market Tuesday night with the deadline of Nov. 3 -- the NFL Trade Deadline -- for final offers. 

Jermaine Wiggins, one of the show's co-hosts, noted that NFL players rarely put their house on the market in the middle of the season. 

NESN - Now, the source of this were two seperate people sending messages to the station text line saying they live near Gilmore and his house is now up for sale. 

As someone who spent four hours a day, five days a week for two years staring into the dank, dark, amoral snakepit that is the WEEI text line, I wouldn't put any stock at all into what those deranged 1s & 0s say. I learned first hand that they allow phones in every psyche ward, drug detox facility and prison solitary confinement cell and make sure the text line number is in your contacts. 

Then again, as someone who spent most of 2019 chasing rumors that Tom Brady's Brookline house was on the market and so was Alex Guerrero's place in Foxboro, I have no choice but to pay attention to this particular scuttlebutt. This is 2020. Strange as it may sound, sometimes anonymous drones who text sports radio shows have actual information. Unfortunately, the days where you could find a friendly pimp and get the word on the street from him are long since past. 

Tragic, but true. And sometimes you have to rely on nobodies with phones to be your Huggy Bear, even when they turn out to be wrong. They certainly weren't wrong about Brady last year. And there has been almost as much noise about Stephon Gilmore being on the trade market as there was about #Braxit a year ago. 

Assuming these reports are true, and they echo similar reports that the Pats were talking to teams about Gilmore last Spring and again in August before bumping up his pay by $5 million, then it would appear that both Gilmore and the team are preparing for the inevitable. 

If it happens, it's the clearest indication imaginable that Bill Belichick thinks this season is unsalvageable. You don't trade the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, as well as the best player on your roster playing arguably the second most important position in the modern NFL, and make yourself better in the short term. Or the medium term. You do that only as the start of an overhaul. Not tearing building down to the foundation, but a major revamp.

I'd be surprised if this is the play. But how many times before have I said the most surprising thing about Belichick is his ability to still surprise us. When he was willing to trade Drew Bledsoe, the highest paid player in NFL history at the time, to a division rivalry, that should've been the signal he's not afraid to do anything. Then he cut Lawyer Milloy loose five days before the start of the 2003 season, and we should've realized then no one was too good to walk away from. Then it was Deion Branch, Asante Samuel, Mike Vrable, Randy Moss, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker, Chandler Jones. All sacred cows he made meatloaf from and fed to the Dynasty to keep it going. 

It would appear that as great as Gilmore has been since he became the most significant free agent signing of Belichick's career, he's making more money than the coach feels he's worth. As a Pats insider once told me, he loved Wes Welker at $3 million, then hated $9 million Welker. And it's possible Gilmore has signaled he's looking for another bump after the season. If so, that's a tough sell given the way the defense is playing right now. 

For what it's worth, Pro Football Focus has Gilmore currently graded as the Patriots third best cornerback in 2020. First is JC Jackson, who's ranked the third best corner in the league. Next is Jonathan Jones, who is 51st. Gilmore is 77th. Football people laugh at these analytics sites, but it's quite possible the coaching staff has a similar assessment of him. Though ultimately any decision to move on from Gilmore will not just be up to the coaches but also the accountants, capologists and counters of beans. 

What could they get for Gilmore in a trade? A premium tight end would be great. Also a reliable wide receiver option. And I wouldn't turn down an every down Front-7 player given the way they were physically dominated by San Francisco's complex zone blocking schemes. But since draft picks are always the more likely scenario, here's a list of all the players who returned a first rounder over the last three years. Screencap courtesy of NBC Sports Boston:

Note that Gilmore is three years older than the oldest name on this list. So realistically you'd be looking at something more along the lines of the return they got for Jimmy Garoppolo, a second rounder, hopefully from a bottom feeder team that can get you into the top 40 picks. 

So we'll see. The trading deadline is next Tuesday, November 3rd. And needless to say the decision to keep or move Stephon Gilmore will be the biggest decision America makes that day. 

P.S. I can't help but think I'm responsible for all this.