BREAKING: The Patriots are Releasing Stephon Gilmore

"Surprised? If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn't be any more surprised than I am right now." - Clark W. Griswold

I'm sitting here trying to process this news and honestly, I cannot think of a scenario that could've worked out worse than the way this one did. 

Stephon Gilmore comes here in 2017, to that point the biggest free agent signing in Bill Belichick's career. And after a very shaky but mercifully very short start, he becomes the best free agent signing in franchise history. He gets assigned every opponent's WR1 on a weekly basis and effectively throws a Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak over them. He makes a game-saving interception to win a Super Bowl:

Wins 2019's Defensive Player of the Year and comes seeking a pay raise. He gets it for 2020, but it's all money borrowed from his 2021 contract. 

Then? Nothing. Not a single thing. No progress all year long on an extension. Despite a trip to Boston by Gilmore on Father's Day:

… no one budges. Not only does neither side budge, we never get the next best, most reasonable solution for all involved, a trade. 

When you've got a vehicle you like and it's running tip top but the upkeep is too much for you, you don't have it towed away. You trade it in or sell it on Facebook Marketplace or wherever. Just hanging onto Gilmore all this time, stashing him away in the garage that is the PUP list only to release him in October is the football equivalent of donating him to Kars for Kids and settling for the write off. 

More to the point, we were all looking forward to him coming back and helping this defense that has the potential to be one of the best units in the game with him. Even if you like the current CBs so far - which I do - you reinstall Gilmore at the top of the depth chart and you've added a software patch that's going to significantly upgrade your performance.

I just cannot believe there was nothing they could get in return for a guy who was the best defensive player in the land two seasons ago. Even if you've seen your secondary over the last month and are perfectly content to go with a starting cornerback group of J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills, there has to be some sort of demand for a lockdown corner of Gilmore's caliber. 

Unless I'm missing something, I just have to assume they granted Gilmore's release as a favor to him. Out of respect for all he's done here, to give him the chance to find his own landing spot. If so, that's awfully sweet and all. But I'm getting tired of them doing these solids for players instead of doing business as business is done in the NFL. Gilmore could've netted someone who can help this year. A pass-catching running back they're in desperate need of. Some offensive line help. Another defensive back to help mitigate the loss of Gilmore. I'd even settle for Day 2 draft pick, rather than Bill playing Mr. Nice GM and letting his most talented player go for the low, low price of zero. 

And we all know what this means. Tom Brady getting Gilmore to sign with Tampa in 5 … 4 …. 3 ….

Patrick Smith. Getty Images.