Fresh concerns raised about Carolina Panthers’ swoop for Stephon Gilmore

Could the Carolina Panthers go elsewhere for cornerback help?

Stephon Gilmore / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers writer Darin Gantt raised fresh doubt about the team potentially signing veteran free-agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

After Jadeveon Clowney revealed that Stephon Gilmore was eager to reunite with his high school and college teammate on the Carolina Panthers next season, the excitement among the fanbase was palpable. The veteran cornerback left under a cloud after a brief spell with the franchise in 2021. Those incompetent decision-makers are no longer around, so the hope was that bridges could be built en route to an agreement.

This is a feel-good story that would see Gilmore play closer to home and perhaps even finish his glittering playing career in Carolina. It’s something he wanted two years ago before Scott Fitterer and Matt Rhule opted to pay Donte Jackson instead. Now, the onus will be on Dan Morgan to make this happen.

Carolina Panthers might not be a fit for Stephon Gilmore

Of course, reality is often disappointing. Darin Gantt from the team’s website outlined the potential reasons why Gilmore won’t end up re-joining the Panthers this offseason, although he acknowledged that both sides are staying in touch to keep the lines of communication open.

“[Stephon] Gilmore’s going into his 34-year-old season and was making $10 million last year. If you look at the scope of all the Panthers’ moves this offseason, you’ll notice that [Jadeveon] Clowney is the only player brought in from outside who is in his 30s, and he’s coming off one of his best seasons and played a position of extreme need. The Panthers are not deep at corner, but they’re not the same kind of shallow they were at outside linebacker. If Gilmore was 29, or even 31 again, this deal might already be done. But he’s not. He doesn’t have to run extremely well to play his game (when you run a receiver’s route for him like he did on the 2021 interception at Atlanta, you need to be smarter than fast), but they do need someone who can move. He’s a great player. This might not be as much of a fit as it was three years ago.”

– Darin Gantt, Panthers.com

The Panthers have a little less than $4 million in available salary cap after a flurry of free-agent activity. They’ll need $8.51 million to sign their draft class according to Spotrac, so Brandt Tilis has more financial gymnastics to undertake before on-field preparations begin in earnest for the 2024 campaign.

Gilmore would be a significant addition, bringing experience and stability to a depleted cornerback unit. However, the Panthers and others will probably wait until after the 2024 NFL Draft to make further inquiries.

Morgan is higher on Dane Jackson than most fans, which might also factor into his decision-making process. But all eyes will be on the draft to see what – if any – cornerback moves are made. After that, it’ll become clearer whether Gilmore is a realistic target or not.

There should be a few offers on the table for Gilmore to mull over once the college selection process concludes. His production for the Dallas Cowboys last season indicates there are a couple of good years left in the tank. But as Gantt stated, this isn’t the sort of move Morgan’s been associated with this offseason aside from signing Clowney.

The likelihood of Gilmore coming back is diminishing. Until something concrete emerges, the team’s long-suffering fanbase will hold out hope.

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