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Patriots to trade cornerback Stephon Gilmore after rumored release

The Patriots are parting ways with their two-time All Pro and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year.

Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots kneels down in prayer prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

UPDATE: The Patriots have traded Gilmore to the Panthers for a 2023 sixth round pick, per Tom Pelissero.

UPDATE: Patriots reporter Greg Bedard is reporting the Packers are viewed as a favorite in league circles to land Gilmore.

The New England Patriots are making a big move that is shocking and yet not entirely surprising. The team is releasing All Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The 31-year old is on the PUP list due to a quad injury that dates back to 2020. He played 11 games last year and entered this season unhappy with his contract situation. He was due a $7,000,000 base salary and $911,765 in roster bonuses. He skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp and then told Josina Anderson he wasn’t sure if he would be ready for training camp following offseason quad surgery.

The team placed him on the PUP list to open camp and he remained there at the end of the preseason. He would miss the first six weeks on the PUP list, eligible to come off after this coming weekend. It’s not clear at this point how soon he would be ready to return to playing, but the market will be big for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the most sense given all the injuries they’ve had, and the Kansas City Chiefs — who currently rank 31st in pass defense efficiency — will likely also be aggressive in pursuit.

The news is a shock, but the decision is not altogether surprising. He was unhappy and wanted out, while the Patriots appear to have decided they can do without him. The team’s pass defense currently ranks second in efficiency, and while last week’s solid performance against Tom Brady is far and away the toughest challenge, the unit has still looked good. The next big test for the pass defense is in two weeks when they host Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.

UPDATE: Gilmore confirmed the news on Instagram.