The New England Patriots have a well-documented history of parting ways with a player a year or two early as opposed to a year or two late.

Perhaps this trend at some point will continue with the team’s current best overall player.

Stephon Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, will once again serve as the backbone of New England’s defense in the upcoming season. There’s no reason not to expect sustained excellence from Gilmore, who will be in line for another monster payday following the final two seasons of his deal with the Patriots.

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Considering New England’s trajectory and its current salary cap situation, forking over a boatload of cash to Gilmore might not be in the franchise’s future plans. As such, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer seems to believe it wouldn’t hurt for teams to merely call the Patriots and inquire about the corner’s availability.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore,” Breer wrote in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column. “New England needs cap space—and Gilmore has an $18.67 million cap hit for this year and a $19.67 million cap hit for next year, after a 2019 restructure. But he’s only taking home $11 million in cash this year, $12 million next year, and, after that, he’s up. Gilmore’s deal, at $13 million per year, was near the top of the corner market when he signed it. Since then, he’s gotten better, and the market for defensive players has exploded. He’s now around $10 million per year short of fellow DPOYs Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald. And it stands to reason that if the Pats went to him looking for cap relief, he’d want something in return—and he might want a correction anyway. He’s New England’s best player. He turns 30 in September. The Patriots are retooling. If you’re a corner-needy team, you might want to give them a call just to check in.”

It’s tough to imagine New England currently has any plan to trade Gilmore, but things quickly can change in the NFL. Bill Belichick also never has shied away from making a seismic move, so we wouldn’t put it past him.

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