BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots’ moving on from Stephon Gilmore was the final chapter in a long contract disagreement, and head coach Bill Belichick is saying that the decision to say goodbye was mutual.

Belichick released a brief statement on Wednesday, shortly before his press conference. In that statement, Belichick said he was grateful for the contributions of Gilmore and that the two sides agreed to mutually part ways.

“I am grateful to Stephon Gilmore for his significant contributions to our team. It was a privilege and pleasure to coach Steph, I appreciate him for the true professional and class act that he is and wish him all the best in the future,” Belichick’s statement read. “Following discussions over a long period of time, we mutually agreed to part ways today.”

The Patriots gave Gilmore a $5 million raise in 2020, after his Defensive Player of the Year season in 2019. That money, though, came out of Gilmore’s 2021 salary, and the Patriots were unwilling to add the right amount of dollars or years to keep Gilmore. Complicating matters was Gilmore’s quadriceps surgery late last season, which severely hurt his trade value. That likely led to the leak of the team releasing him, which put a deadline of sorts on teams looking to trade for him.

The Panthers ultimately bit, reportedly sending a sixth-round pick to the Patriots for Filmore.

Shortly after releasing the statement, Belichick stepped to the podium at Gillette Stadium to meet with the media.

“Absolutely appreciate and feel strongly about the player and the person. He’s a great kid,” Belichick said of Gilmore. “Unfortunately, as I said, we decided to part ways. Don’t have any other comment on that right now, so that is what it is.”

Despite saying that he had no further comment on the matter, Belichick was asked four questions about Gilmore. The first was about how or why the Patriots couldn’t reach an agreement with Gilmore when the team was spending so much money in free agency last offseason, and the second was about how the release of a player like Gilmore factors in to the Patriots’ ultimate goal of winning football games. Belichick answered neither.

The third question was about the timing, a question which Belichick did answer to some extent.

“There have been a number of things that have gone on for a long period of time, and finally we just mutually reached the point that we reached,” he said.

A fourth question — about whether or not Gilmore had any trade value — was rejected.

“Again, I’m not commenting any further on it. I appreciate all the questions, I really do,” Belichick said. “But I’ve said all I can say for right now.”

The Patriots finally finding a trade partner in Carolina helped provide some context to those unanswered questions.

CBSBoston.com Staff