How the Eagles could pair another top corner with Darius Slay this season
Since early March, rumors have been circulating involving the New England Patriots and CB Stephon Gilmore. It was reported that the two were in a contract dispute with Gilmore entering the final year of his deal. Per Dianna Russini of ESPN, the Patriots were seeking a player and first-round pick for Gilmore during the season, but no such offer was presented.
New England was speculated to possibly deal Gilmore on draft night to move up for their QB of the future, but with Mac Jones falling to them at #15 that wasn’t necessary. Trading Gilmore would leave New England with J.C. Jackson as their CB1, who had nine interceptions last season (second-most in the NFL).
In a draft where the Eagles were expected to come away with at least two cornerbacks, the team only selected one in Zech McPhearson in the 4th-round. While McPhearson does possess exceptional fluidity and athleticism, there still isn’t much depth behind Darius Slay (who turned 30 back in January).
While guys like Asante Samuel Jr. and Aaron Robinson were available when the Eagles made their selections, Howie did address not taking a corner in the first 3 rounds:
Howie Roseman pointed to Ronald Darby and Jay Ajayi acquisitions to defend current roster holes. Not done trying to build the team. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) May 2, 2021
Jason La Confora reported that Gilmore’s expected return is a 3rd or 4th-round pick. If the Eagles are looking to make a move, there is a deal they could make to net them another top corner opposite Darius Slay:
Patriots receive: 2022 4th-round pick, 2022 5th-round pick (via WSH)
Eagles receive: CB Stephon Gilmore
The Eagles have four picks within the first two rounds of next season’s draft. Parting with a 4th-round pick and a 5th-rounder that they got from Washington in exchange for a stout CB2 is well worth the sacrifice. The 2019 DPOY did regress last year, having 37 tackles with 3 passes defended and an interception before sustaining a season-ending quad injury. His lack of production was due more to the Patriots’ collapse as a whole with the team missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
For those that will ask if the Eagles can even afford him, Gilmore’s cap hit in 2021 is roughly $7.3M. The Eagles are currently sitting around $4.8M in cap space but can free up $8.5M if they release Zach Ertz after June 1st. With the team unable to find a trade suitor for Ertz up to this point, I’d say that’s a likely scenario.
Gilmore does turn 31 in September, so why add him to a team that is currently “rebuilding?” Quite simply, the Eagles are going to surpass expectations next season. They have a new head coach who puts his players in positions to succeed. Jalen Hurts has a full offseason to build chemistry with his offense. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner is now in Philadelphia while the defensive line has been injected with youth through the draft.
After an offseason that started about as ugly as one could imagine, the Eagles are poised to make some noise in the division next year. But in order to stop the plethora of receivers throughout the NFC East, you’re going to need more than just Darius Slay. Gilmore would give the defense a good chance, even if it was just for one year until Derek Stingley Jr. is drafted here next season.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo | Nick Wass