BOSTON (CBS) — If you thought the return for Stephon Gilmore was low, then you’re not alone. A number of NFL executives feel the same.

According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Bill Belichick and the Patriots weren’t exactly shopping Gilmore around to the highest bidder before trading him to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2023.

“There was interest in Stephon Gilmore,” Garafolo said on NFL Network this weekend. “After the trade, some teams were like, ‘Well we would’ve done that! They didn’t really engage us in talks.’ So that is why Stephon Gilmore went for a late pick — not even this year, but the year after. Great deal for the Panthers.”

Garafolo’s “hunch” is that the Patriots wanted to control where Gilmore went, getting him out of the division and out of the conference, much like they did with Jimmy Garoppolo in 2017. Had the Patriots not found a trade partner, Garafolo said some high-profile quarterbacks were fighting to lure him to their teams.

“Teams elsewhere around the league were saying, ‘All right, well if he’s going to be free, well then the recruiting process will be on.’ In fact, quarterbacks around the league — I’m talking star quarterbacks around the league — were texting Gilmore: ‘Come here, come play here.’ Their teams would have been behind them had they gotten to 4 o’clock,” Garafolo said.

While the news of the Patriots deciding to “mutually part ways” with Gilmore was a bit surprising, given a number of factors, Garafolo said the Patriots did try to make a last-ditch effort to keep Gilmore in New England.

“[The Patriots] offered Gilmore the chance to restructure in a way that he could have earned more money than what was on the books. Now he was going to have to be on the field and he was gonna have to perform to make it happen, but they were giving him the chance to do that,” Garafolo said. “And they did want to retain him at one point; they just couldn’t come to an agreement.”

CBSBoston.com Staff