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The Panthers have traded a 2023 6th round pick for Stephon Gilmore

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Kyle’s update, 10:10 a.m. PT: The Panthers have traded for Stephon Gilmore.

Kyle’s update, 10:06 a.m. PT: Per Albert Breer, Gilmore reportedly wants to play for the Green Bay Packers.

After failing to agree to a restructured deal, the New England Patriots are releasing four-time Pro Bowler and former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore. Per Adam Schefter, the Patriots were $54,000 under the cap and needed financial flexibility.

Releasing Gilmore, who had a base salary of $7 million, will do the trick. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said New England wanted to see Gilmore play before giving him a raise, but that has yet to happen as Gilmore was placed on the PUP list to start the season with a quad injury.

According to Schefter, Gilmore is eligible to return from the PUP list after Week 6 and should be recovered from his quad injury in the coming weeks.

Gilmore’s 2018 and 2019 seasons featured some of the best cornerback play in recent memory. What the 31-year-old has left in the tank is to be determined. They won’t be the only team interested, but the 49ers seemed like a prominent landing spot for Gilmore even before Jason Verrett went down with an ACL injury.

You’re not dismissing Gilmore because you have Dre Kirkpatrick, Deommodore Lenoir, or Josh Norman. DeMeco Ryans lives in man coverage, especially on third downs. Gilmore played in a system where man coverage was all they ran, which propelled Gilmore to become one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

Do the 49ers have the cap space? No. Can they manipulate the salary cap and find a way to get Gilmore under the books? Of course. Bucs, 49ers, Chiefs, Packers, Browns, and Ravens could all use an upgrade at cornerback.

Gilmore isn’t subject to waivers and will be free to sign with a playoff contender. He’ll likely go to the team that offers him the most money while presenting the best situation to win. Gilmore was wise not to take a Patriots contract. Supply and demand suggest that he’s in for a raise on the open market.

Work your magic, Paraag.