Stephon Gilmore may be the best corner the Colts have ever had but they may be wasting his talents
The Indianapolis Colts have one of the best corners in the NFL in Stephon Gilmore but the team isn’t capitalizing on his talents.
Stephon Gilmore notched his first healthy season since his DPOY-winning campaign back in 2019 with the New England Patriots. Since the said season, and prior to his tenure with the Indianapolis Colts, Gilmore started in 14 of 33 possible games, yet still netted Pro Bowl nods during those seasons. The injury concern was no reason for Colts general manager Chris Ballard to steer clear of the All-Pro talent as the Colts signed Gilmore to a two-year, $20 million deal ($14 million guaranteed). With an unexpected rebuild on the way, have the Colts wasted the contract of the best cornerback in franchise history?
When deciding who the best players are at their respective positions, at least in terms of a franchise’s history, it’s understandably important that you decipher between franchise and overall accomplishments. For a more recent example, mainstays Kelvin Hayden and Darius Butler were Colts for most of their career(s), six years apiece. Hayden racked up nine interceptions, four forced fumbles, and four defensive touchdowns during his time in Indianapolis, and Butler accumulated 12 interceptions, nine forced fumbles, and three defensive touchdowns in six seasons with the Colts.
Vontae Davis is often regarded as the best corner in the Indy football era, not only because he had 13 interceptions in six seasons with the Colts, but also because he’s 1-of-2 cornerbacks to receive a Pro Bowl nod in Indianapolis history (Kenny Moore II being the second).
In terms of years played for a team and overall production, however, Eugene Daniel (1984 to 1996) absolutely takes the cake as the best cornerback in franchise history. Playing for one of the worst teams in football during his time in Indy, Daniel was snubbed over and over again from any national recognition. Although it was a more reckless era when it comes to the passing game, Daniel came away with 14 interceptions in just his first two seasons with the Colts. He would go on to play at least 14 games in every season for the rest of his career in Indianapolis, all while accruing 35 interceptions which is the most all-time for an Indianapolis Colt.
Colts aren’t capitalizing on having Stephon Gilmore
When it comes to the curious case of Stephon Gilmore, however, his case for being the best cornerback in Colts History sprouts from his overall talent(s) as a player. He has merely just finished his first year in Indy, but before ever stepping on the field with a horseshoe on his head, Gilmore was already amongst the best in franchise history. You see, I value the time spent with an organization as much as the next person, but Gilmore’s talent as a player is historical.
Since the Defensive Player of the Year Award was created back in 1971, only five cornerbacks in NFL History have received said illustrious honor, Gilmore being one of them.
As previously mentioned, the current-day Colts are embarking on an unforeseen rebuild. Whether you referred to the media, both local and national, there was a general consensus going into the 2022 season that at the very least, the Indianapolis Colts would be a team poised for its first division title since 2014. Clearly, those plans did not see an execution, and now the team is looking for a fresh start at its most important position (QB), on top of needing a new head coach.
With no sustained success in sight, it’s almost safe to say the Indianapolis Colts will not be contending, either for a division title or a Super Bowl, when Gilmore is playing on the last year of his deal next season. Gilmore will be 34 when he is set to become a free agent ahead of the 2024 offseason, so proving he is still physically capable of withstanding an entire NFL season for said sweepstakes doesn’t theoretically mean as much as it would had he been 29.
At this point in his career, Gilmore is looking for stability (financial and/or organizational) as well as a shot at another Super Bowl ring to add to his future HOF candidacy. His time as a Colt may be considered unfulfilled once it’s all said and done. However, this article isn’t meant to paint Gilmore out to be ungrateful for his opportunity and/or his time in Indianapolis, as he has remained vigilant in perfecting his craft and in mentoring the young corners under him in the depth chart.
All in all, Gilmore has certainly held up his end of the bargain, not only due to the points I’ve already made, but additionally because he was single-handedly responsible for securing wins in half of the team’s victories this season with his play in clutch time. The unfortunate part is that the organization has not held up its end, making it all the more crushing when we look back to Gilmore’s time as a Colt in the future.
For all the reasons I’ve mentioned, I believe Stephon Gilmore is the best (most talented) cornerback in Colts franchise history, and although it wasn’t intentional by any means, his time in Indy has been and will be, wasted.