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Stephon Gilmore Says He Had No Intention of Leaving NE When He Put His House Up For Sale at the Trade Deadline

Boston (CBS) - It sounds like Stephon Gilmore will be back to roaming the field for the New England secondary on Sunday, after the star corner missed the previous three games with a knee injury.

Gilmore spoke with reporters on Friday, a clear sign that he’s set to return to the New England lineup when the Patriots visit the Houston Texans on Sunday. He also made it clear that his recent absence was due to an injury — and not a contract holdout by the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

“I wasn’t able to play. I wasn’t physically able to play these last couple of weeks,” Gilmore said Friday. “Things happen and you have to adjust to it, and there is nothing that would keep me off the field from playing with my teammates.

“I’m just happy that I’m progressing and getting better; I’m looking forward to this week,” he added.

There was a lot of Gilmore trade speculation around the NFL trade deadline a few weeks ago, especially when the cornerback’s house hit the market around that time. He had an easy explanation for that on Friday.

“I just wanted to move to the city. I like the city,” he said. “It’s a place I want to go, so that’s why I made that decision. ... I love being here,” he said. “I love the coaches and the players; I love being here.”

I have to admit, this notion that Stephon Gilmore hasn't been playing because he's been holding a Sick Out like a public employee's union when contract talks have stalled is news to me. That never occurred to me once. Maybe there's something wrong with my brain that it doesn't connect dots like that and prefers conspiracies that are all about the government covering up Bigfoot and Jeffrey Epstein's murder than that. But even more so, I'm just going by the Occam's Razor "simplest explanation" theory. Football players hurt their knees virtually all the time. Reigning DPOTYs who just got a $5 million bump in the offseason and who are under contract for next year sitting out games to leverage teams is far less likely. Mostly because it's going to kill their chances of anyone signing him. Teams don't back up the Brinks truck for 32 year old quitters. And for sure you don’t play hooky with this organization. If they thought he was faking, he’d have been long gone by now, just to send the message they don’t take kindly to those kinds of shenanigans.

The other thing he said is a little harder to process. First of all, because Gilmore put right on the listing for his house that he would be taking all serious offers until November 3rd, which was the trading deadline. Which is a hell of a random coincidence and really hard to swallow. Second, and even more to the point, who prefers to live in the city right now? Are supposed to believe that he's sick of having a large, sprawling property surrounded by lawn and forest that's a couple of minutes from work, and would be much happier crammed into a scene of urban blight, shuttered restaurants, boarded up stores and businesses that will never return? Because who wants to raise their family and a lovely idyllic suburban community when they can move into Covid City, USA?

The bottom line is, I think he assumed he would be sent packing at the trading deadline. And he wanted to be ready for it. He then hurt his knee which is a part of the body that uniquely not conducive to playing football. And there’s enough going on here to tell us he probably won’t be back next season. But that’s for later on. The important thing is that he will be back Sunday against Houston. Otherwise he wouldn’t be saying anything at all today. That, and he loves it in New England. Nobody would lie about that.