Tuesday’s trade deadline came and went without much fanfare. One rumored blockbuster that never quite came to fruition involved New England cornerback and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots were reportedly shopping Gilmore, seeking significant draft-pick compensation for the talented 30-year-old, though ultimately nothing came of that pursuit.
Staring down the barrel of a losing season, a rarity under prolific head coach/de facto GM Bill Belichick, the Patriots could have gone the “Tank for Trevor” route, jumpstarting the team’s expected rebuild by stockpiling draft capital. Dealing Gilmore would surely have accomplished that, so why did New England hold off on trading its top asset? Even before the deadline hit at 4 PM ET, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports suspected Gilmore would remain a Patriot, outlining a variety of reasons why.
“This is such a different year,” said Glazer, discussing the situation with Fox colleague Colin Cowherd. “He has to test for six days before he can even join you. So even if you get him in there on time after you trade [Tuesday], he’s not going to play this weekend, probably be limited the week after that, so you don’t have that instant gratification.” Beyond the obvious COVID hurdles, next year’s significantly lower cap was also a major factor in teams not being more aggressive at the trade deadline.
“Nobody’s going to be taking those high-priced players, those big contracts, because of what the cap is going to be next year,” explained Glazer. “That’s why the whole trade deadline this year has been pretty uneventful for the most part.” While the Rams lavished the Jaguars with three picks including a pair of first-rounders for Jalen Ramsey in 2019, there’s no evidence the Patriots were offered anything close to that for Gilmore. The restraint shown at this year’s deadline could be a sign of things to come with penny-pinching teams hesitant to make waves on the free agent or trade markets amid historic revenue losses stemming from COVID.
Glazer admitted he was thrown for a loop when Gilmore listed his house for sale seemingly out of the blue, wondering if the Patriots star knew something the rest of us didn’t. “In the listing, it says all offers must be in by Tuesday at 5 o’clock,” said the popular Fox personality. “I’m like, ‘Does he know something we didn’t know before that?’ He had a knee injury this weekend and didn’t play. Pretty funny he insisted one hour after the trade deadline, all offers must be in.”
The 2-5 Patriots, losers of four straight, remain postseason longshots, holding just a 12-percent playoff probability, according to the latest projections from FiveThirtyEight.com (ESPN is even more pessimistic, measuring their dwindling playoff odds at a dismal 10 percent). Perhaps New England will revisit trading Gilmore in 2021, the three-time Pro Bowler’s final year under contract.