“Something to keep in mind — and it’s a small little storyline to keep an eye on — Stephon Gilmore is in the final year of his five-year contract with the New England Patriots. He’s making about $7 million this season. The New England Patriots could perhaps deal Stephon Gilmore on draft night as part of a package to move up if they are in the business of getting a quarterback.
“I did speak to a team in the top 10 who told me they’ve had calls with New England.” - Dianna Russini on "Get Up"
You know that trope in movies and TV where the protagonists are stuck in a bad situation they can't figure out how to get out of, and then some secondary character says something innocuous and it gives the leader a brilliant idea? Like a caper movie where they can't possibly pull off the heist until an underling says, "It looks like they've got us over a barrel" and the main character says, "That's it! That's the perfect plan!" while the first guy is all "What did I say?" Jump cut to the next scene where the leader explains how they can sneak in and out in barrels and it works to perfection.
By way of example, I'm thinking of the original "Star Trek" when this alien ship has total control over the Enterprise and was about to destroy it, until Spock says "It would appear we are at checkmate." To which Kirks says, "No! Not chess. Poker!" Then he proceeds to bluff them with a fake communication about a non-existent suicide device that will blow both ships into space rubble and the little fuckers warp out of there.
That's what I'm picturing happening here. The Patriots went into this offseason with several areas of need. The first of which is a starting quarterback who can throw for more than eight touchdowns. The second of which was the Stephon Gilmore situation. They had many others, but resolved those through intensive retail therapy when free agency began. These first two though, remain. And I can't help but imagine this conversation taking place in staff meetings:
Personnel Guy #1: "It's pretty clear the only way we're getting a top five quarterback is to move up into the top 10."
Bill Belichick: "Yeah, but San Francisco trading three 1sts to move up nine spots has totally blown up the market."
Personnel Guy #1: "True. Now no top 10 team will drop to No. 15 without getting at least another 1st rounder."
Personnel Guy #2: "Looks like San Fran really painted us into a corner."
Belichick: "Corner? [snaps fingers] That's IT! We offer them the best corner in the league! You're a genius!"
Personnel Guy #2: "What did I say???"
It just makes perfect sense on every level. Gilmore was the Defensive POTY the season before last. Like David Pollack says in that clip, he's due to make $7 million this year. The Patriots would love to keep him, but they don't have the cap space to give him the extension he no doubt expects. Last year felt like his last year in New England. He had his house on the market as the trade deadline approached. They could try and force him to accept this bargain rate, but all that would do is cause massive problems and just be asking for trouble. Plus, there's nothing Belichick loves more than getting the best years out of a player's career and then letting somebody else overpay him, which would be the case here. And a draft day trade would not only put a ribbon on the career of the best free agent signing of the Dynasty Era (all due respect to Mike Vrable and Rodney Harrison), it would give them the vertical move they need to get their next Franchise guy, while preserving the integrity of their future drafts.
I'm under no illusion Gilmore plus the 15th pick alone will get them into the single digits. Particularly when one of the teams they're reportedly talking to is Atlanta, at No. 4:
But if you're one of those teams like the Falcons or Panthers who aren't desperate for a QB and you're taking offers, how many GMs can offer you a package that keeps you in the upper half of the 1st round, plus veteran shutdown corner who from Week 1 will line up opposite your opponent's No. 1 target and neutralize him playing strictly man coverage with no help? Add a little flavor enhancer like some picks in the deep sweet spot of this draft, which is pretty much projected to be 50-100, and possibly some future mid-round picks, and that's a pretty nice haul for a team on the rebuild.
For the Pats, it leaves them with a hole in the secondary to say the least. But it's one they can try to address with this class, re-upping Jason McCourty or getting 2019 2nd rounder Joejuan Williams to put on his big boy pants at last. And the addition of Jalen Mills, who can take 60 snaps on the outside one week and then play five different spots the next, should definitely help. And it would free up cash to give JC Jackson the coveted second contract he deserves. Regardless, you have to give up something to get something. And Stephon Gilmore is most definitely something.
For Gilmore, he gets the payday he deserves. Or he plays out the season, hits free agency, and then gets paid. Which makes a deal like this a win/win/win for everyone involved. And gigantic, neon, Texas sized LOSE for every team competing in the AFC should Belichick pull of a move into the top of the draft without having to give up a future 1st rounder. I'd miss Gilmore to be sure. But I'll take a QB1 for the next 20 years over one more season of him. Like they also say in all those movies and TV, it's just crazy enough to work. Make it so.