The Philadelphia Eagles Avoided a $42 Million Mistake

The Philadelphia Eagles sit atop the mostly disastrous NFC east with a 3-4-1 record. Eyes were on the team as the trade deadline approached. Would they make acquisitions to turn their top spot in a pathetic division into something more ambitious?

One of the top points of discussion was whether shoring up their defensive backfield was in the cards. With the New England Patriots’ playoff hopes dashed, they were ready to deal. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was widely rumored to be on the table. But it would’ve been a costly mistake if the Eagles went with him.

Why the Patriots considered trading Stephon Gilmore

Alshon Jeffery of the Philadelphia Eagles misses the pass attempt under pressure from Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots in 2018
The Eagles’ Alshon Jeffery under pressure from the Patriots’ Stephon Gilmore in 2018 | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Patriots have likely considered Gilmore a trade possibility for some time. His value on the field is not in doubt, although recent injuries and a positive COVID-19 test were a setback. Above all, Gilmore himself has been vocal about his dismal opinion of the revamped Pats. It’s hard to imagine a team run by Bill Belichick not considering that insubordination.

Patriots Wire reports that Gilmore spent the offseason fuming over his $42 million contract. He went as far as skipping most team meetings. The clearest signal was when he and his wife listed their New England area property on Zillow, signaling a desire to leave the area.

The Patriots left Gilmore stewing, avoiding the big cornerback contracts that similarly talented defensive backs have pulled in lately. They opted instead to pass along a $5 million bonus as the cornerback waits on more substantial news.

Still, there’s reason to believe Gilmore might have a place in New England in 2021. Cam Newton does not appear to be the future at quarterback, leaving the offensive line in an awkward position. It might not be the time to send a reliable piece like Gilmore packing.

Why the Philadelphia Eagles likely avoided a costly mistake

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The Patriots dealt with the pros and cons of trading Gilmore by shopping him around, but only at an eye-popping cost. Bleacher Report posted a rumor that any interested parties — with the Eagles at the top of the list — would have to give up a first-round pick and a player to get their foot in the door at all.

Perhaps that would be a good move in another context. But for the Eagles, sitting atop a historically weak division, there are wrinkles to the situation. ESPN‘s Mike Clay tweeted that the Birds have one of the easiest slates of remaining games. Should a 3-4-1 team really rush to trade away their future when they’ll likely do well for the rest of the regular season?

Should the Eagles have stayed silent at the trade deadline?

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Gilmore is simply too high a cost to pay for the Eagles this year. But they may have gone too far conservatively at the deadline. Following three consecutive years of 11th-hour trades, this time things stayed silent in Philly. NBC Sports reports that general manager Howie Roseman likely pushed for some moves, as his habit, but did not strike.

With Gilmore missing games over injuries, as Pro Football Talk reports, that move would’ve only netted the Eagles a new benchwarmer for the time being. Injuries likely explain why it was difficult to make decent moves from Philadelphia’s side, too.

Will Parks, Zach Ertz, and DeSean Jackson were all seen as trade candidates for weeks, but injuries hampered their usefulness to teams looking to shore up their playoff hopes. The Eagles could use some help to get their team over .500, even with the easy schedule, but it simply wasn’t in the cards.