What Stephon Gilmore trade and return of Jamie Collins means for the Patriots

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As the dust settled on the return of Tom Brady to New England, the Patriots wasted little time focusing on the next step by trading Stephon Gilmore and reacquiring Jamie Collins. After months of uncertainty, Gilmore was finally traded to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round 2023 draft pick. This won’t make an immediate impact on the Patriots.

Gilmore was not due to play until week 6 as he is on the PUP list. But trading away an all-pro former DOPY is certain to have an impact on the future of the franchise one way or another. Within a minute of the official announcement being made,  it was confirmed linebacker Collins was returning for a third stint at Gillette Stadium.

Bill Belichick made a splash in free agency spending a record-setting $159.6 million in guaranteed money. And while it is yet to pay dividends, it’s clear the head coach is still set on reshaping his team around the Tom Brady-shaped hole that appeared in 2020.

So what exactly do the latest moves mean for New England?

The Impact of the Patriots trading Stephon Gilmore and Jamie Collins returning

Belichick remains unsentimental about his best players

It will have surprised no one if they really thought about it. Even though Gilmore is one of the best in the NFL at what he does, Belichick refused to budge when it came to contract negotiations.

Some fans were hoping the two parties would find a way. Gilmore has been phenomenal for the Patriots over the four years he has been with the team.

In his Defensive Player of the Year season, he put up incredible numbers and dominated in man-coverage. He recorded six interceptions, 20 passes defended, and averaged just 5.9 yards allowed per target. As a result, the 31-year-old was expecting to get paid as soon as the time was right.

Gilmore held out through the summer, demanding a contract adjustment that reflected his performance. But the Patriots were not forthcoming and Belichick decided to ship him out.

In a classic move by the elite head coach, when a player has a dominant season and earns a higher price tag, Belichick moves on and looks for better value. So long, farewell, and thanks for the memories.

The Patriots were short on cap space and Belichick obviously has faith in J.C. Jackson who has stepped into Gilmore’s shoes as the number one CB in his absence.

J.C. Jackson told reporters he was “shocked” to hear the news but he has been delivering as CB1 in the first four games. He has improved on his passer rating allowed from last season and has two interceptions to his name so far.

Since entering the league in 2018, he is tied at 19 for the most interceptions along with Miami’s Xavien Howard.

So the secondary seems to be in safe hands for now without Gilmore. Instead, Belichick wanted to use the money they had to resign linebacker Jamie Collins.

The defensive line just got a boost

While the loss to Tom Brady and the Bucs might have been more painful, the worst loss by far was the game against New Orleans.

There were many things wrong with the team’s performance on both sides of the ball. The Patriots’ front seven struggled to slow down Alvin Kamara and the running game. Kamara put up 89 yards over 24 carries and played a key role in chewing up the clock on the final drive which put the game out of the Patriots’ reach.

With Jamie Collins back on board, he brings with him veteran-level experience and knowledge of the defensive system he’s joining.

The line has been hampered with injury and the absences of Trent Brown and Ja’Whaun Bentley have been felt.

We know Bill likes some flexibility along the defensive line and Collins will be invaluable in that respect.

While naturally an outside linebacker, he is also strong in coverage and against the run.

He had his best two seasons with the Patriots. In 2019, he recorded 63 tackles, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and three interceptions. He should be ready to hit the ground running as soon as he returns to Foxborough.

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