Colts: Should Indy make play for Stephon Gilmore trade?
By Jerry Trotta
The Indianapolis Colts’ secondary had its problems last season, but the unit was still strong enough to help the team win 11 games and clinch a playoff berth.
Though fans would’ve liked to see general manager Chris Ballard make a move for a high-end cornerback this offseason, he continued displaying the importance of roster continuity by re-signing veteran duo Xavier Rhodes and TJ Carrie in free agency.
As things stand, the Colts’ cornerback room is composed of Rhodes, Carrie, slot savant Kenny Moore, Rock Ya-Sin (who struggled mightily last year), 2020 sixth-rounder Isaiah Rodgers and Marvell Tell, who opted out of last season amid the global pandemic.
Is that group good enough to make the playoffs? Definitely. Is it good enough to win a championship? Probably not, and that means Indy should ponder a trade for Stephon Gilmore, who’s currently sitting out of Patriots minicamp amid his contract dilemma.
Should the Colts pursue a trade for Stephon Gilmore?
Gilmore is due to make just $7 million this upcoming season, which is significantly below the market value for a player of his caliber — and that’s going to have to rise.
For context, Gilmore was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, has made three Pro Bowl teams and received two first-team All-Pro nods over his first four years with the Patriots. During that span, he’s logged 185 tackles, 52 (!) passes defended, 11 interceptions (two of which were returned for touchdowns), three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
While Gilmore underwent season-ending quad surgery in December, he likely would’ve been cleared for minicamp had he shown up. And for those pessimistic fans using the former first-round pick’s age (he’ll turn 31 in September) as an excuse to not make a trade, the Colts’ zone scheme is a perfect fit for players who are on the wrong side of 30.
Just ask Rhodes, who enjoyed an excellent bounce-back campaign in 2020 after two underwhelming final seasons in Minnesota.
Getting beyond that, the main bugaboo the Colts’ front office will have regarding a potential Gilmore trade is signing him to an extension. The latest reports suggest he wants a new-and-improved contract, which means he’s likely set a baseline of $14 million annually.
We all know Ballard’s hesitance when it comes to unloading draft picks (and spending unnecessary money), but Gilmore would change the entire complexion of Indy’s ceiling. In fact, we’d put them right up there with the likes of the Chiefs, Bills and Browns as far as the four favorites to come out of the AFC.
The Colts have extensions coming for the likes of Darius Leonard, Braden Smith and maybe Quenton Nelson in the coming weeks, per the latest buzz, so squeezing in a deal for Gilmore won’t be easy.
However, teams like the Chiefs, Buccaneers, and Rams have signed free agents and extended cornerstone pieces despite being right up against the cap in recent years, so Indianapolis should be able to figure something out.
Honestly, what’s the worst that could happen? Trading for Gilmore would simply be the perfect response to the Titans’ blockbuster acquisition of Julio Jones. That obviously isn’t the sole reason to pursue a trade for the lockdown CB. It should just give Indy more incentive to do so.