O’Neil: When it comes to CB Stephon Gilmore, the Seahawks should pass
The Seahawks have a secondary in which the most entrenched cornerback has been a starter for less than a full season.
The Patriots have a cornerback in Stephon Gilmore who is so disenchanted with his salary that he’s missing a mandatory team minicamp just two years removed from being the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
As much as a potential pairing makes sense, there’s something keeping me from advocating Seattle’s use of a full-court press to acquire the cornerback. Well, actually it’s three things that should give Seattle pause before its pursuit.
1. Veteran CBs aren’t an automatic fit in the Seahawks’ style.
Call this the Cary Williams’ curse. He’s the veteran cornerback the Seahawks signed in 2015 after losing Byron Maxwell in free agency. Williams had thrived in Baltimore before falling out of favor in Philadelphia, and Seattle signed him to a three-year contract believing he had all the tools to thrive in Seattle’s defense.
He did not, in fact, thrive.
Williams started 10 games before he was benched, was a healthy scratch for the next two games and was released in the final month of the season. Not what Seattle expected for the $7 million he was guaranteed to earn.
Quinton Dunbar didn’t exactly distinguish himself last year, either, after he was acquired from Miami in a trade.
Gilmore is a different caliber of player than either Williams or Dunbar. We’re talking about a former first-round pick who was named the league’s top defensive player in 2019. But the fact remains that Seattle’s biggest success at cornerback has come from guys who were overlooked or underrated by the rest of the league. And in those few instances in which they’ve looked for higher-priced additions from other teams, it has not worked.
2. It’s buyer beware when acquiring a player from New England.
Bill Belichick is not known as the sentimental type when it comes to keeping proven veterans around, whether it was Willie McGinest going to Cleveland, Richard Seymour getting traded to the Raiders or watching Kyle Van Noy sign with Miami in 2020. Those transactions were seen as significant losses at the time but turned out to be prudent (yet tough) decisions.
In recent years, we’ve seen New England decide to let other teams pay big money for defensive linemen who are in line for a big-money deal, with Chandler Jones getting traded to Arizona and Trey Flowers leaving for Detroit. Gilmore is a cornerback, though, and he’s turning 31 the first month of this season.
3. How much will Gilmore cost?
That’s not just in terms of the draft picks it would take to acquire him from the Patriots, but a question regarding his contract. Gilmore is scheduled to make just over $7 million this season. The fact that he’s missing this week’s mandatory workouts – which could cost him more than $90,000 in fines – gives you a pretty strong idea of his dissatisfaction with that salary. Why would he be any more excited about that salary just because a different team like Seattle was paying it?
Trading a draft pick in order to pay Gilmore $7 million for this upcoming season is one thing. Trading a draft pick in order to give him a raise and the multi-year commitment that could come with it is another thing entirely.
Would Gilmore help? Absolutely. He would help stabilize a secondary that lost its most experienced cornerback when Shaquill Griffin signed with Jacksonville. D.J. Reed returns as the starter on one side while the other starting job is up for grabs with newcomers Tre Brown and Ahkello Witherspoon competing with guys like Tre Flowers and Ugo Amadi.
While Gilmore offers a brand-name solution, he also comes with a top-shelf price and enough questions that makes this cornerback one Seattle really should pass on.
The other side: John Clayton says Hawks should consider Gilmore trade