Bill Belichick Releases Statement, Explains Stephon Gilmore Split

'... we mutually agreed to part ways'

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Stephon Gilmore’s split from the New England Patriots was mutual, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Hours after news broke that the Patriots planned to cut their star cornerback, Belichick released a statement thanking Gilmore and explaining his decision.

“I am grateful to Stephon Gilmore for his significant contributions to our team,” the statement read. “It was a privilege and pleasure to coach Steph, I appreciate him for the true professional and class act that he is and wish him all the best in the future.

“Following discussions over a long period of time, we mutually agreed to part ways today.”

Belichick briefly addressed Gilmore’s departure at the top of his Wednesday afternoon news conference, then sidestepped subsequent questions.

“I absolutely appreciate and feel strongly about the player and the person,” Belichick said. “He’s a great kid. Unfortunately, as I said, we decided to part ways. I don’t have any other comment on that right now. It is what it is. We’re really focused on Houston.”

Gilmore and the Patriots had been locked in a contract dispute, as the 31-year-old corner was unwilling to play for his below-market 2021 salary of $7 million. The Patriots reportedly attempted to trade Gilmore before deciding to cut him (and still could deal him before his release becomes official).

Gilmore played four seasons with New England, earning three Pro Bowl nods, two first-team All-Pro selections and the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. His contributions were vital to the Patriots’ 2018 championship run, including a key interception against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

A partially torn quad ended Gilmore’s 2020 campaign last December. He has yet to play or practice since that injury, missing all of training camp and beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list.

With Gilmore gone, the Patriots will move forward with a cornerback group of J.C. Jackson, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Justin Bethel and Shaun Wade. Jackson, New England’s new No. 1 corner, is in the final year of his contract.

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