BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots are moving on from Stephon Gilmore.
Despite a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that said the Patriots were releasing Gilmore, the team ended up finding a trade partner. Gilmore will be heading to the Carolina Panthers, in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round pick, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The #Panthers traded for Stephon Gilmore, sending a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 6, 2021
The surprising move comes with Gilmore still on the PUP list. He has missed the first four weeks of the season with a quadriceps injury that required offseason surgery. He was eligible to play again after Week 6.
Gilmore is a four-time Pro Bowler and was the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. He played a huge role in New England’s run to a Super Bowl title in 2018, picking off Rams quarterback Jared Goff with just over four minutes to go to help clinch a win in Super Bowl LIII.
The 31-year-old was in the final year of the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Patriots in 2017, and sat out OTAs in hopes of getting a new deal from the team.
The cornerback released a statement addressing “Pats Nation” on Twitter shortly after the news broke.
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my goodbye to this great fanbase. We enjoyed so much success together and you have been an incredible inspiration for my individual achievements. Thank you for supporting this Rock Hill kid and allowing him to achieve his NFL dreams,” Gilmore wrote.
“To Mr. Kraft, the coaches, and the organization thank you for providing me this platform and allowing me to be part of greatness,” he continued. “Most of all I want to thank my teammates who lined up next to me every Sunday with one goal in mind. Those moments on and off the field will never be forgotten.”
— The Gilly Lock (@BumpNrunGilm0re) October 6, 2021
In Gilmore’s absence, J.C. Jackson has taken over as New England’s top corner this season. The Patriots are just 1-3 on the season, but have the fourth-best pass defense in terms of passing yards surrendered this season and rank third in the NFL with a 56.5 completion percentage.