The 2023 season was a wild one for Dallas Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Acquired from the Indianapolis Colts for a late-round pick, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year was supposed to start opposite Trevon Diggs as the CB2 in the defense. However, following Diggs’ season-ending injury, the veteran stepped up and spent the year as the top corner on the depth chart.
With DaRon Bland having a remarkable out-of-nowhere season, these two helped lock down opposing receivers for one of the better defenses in the league. Now set to hit the open market once again, Stephon Gilmore recently said that he hopes to return to the Cowboys for the 2024 season.
Stephon Gilmore: “I Want To Come Back” To Cowboys
Speaking on DFW Ticket Radio, Stephon Gilmore made a clear statement about his desire to remain with the Cowboys.
“I want to come back,” Gilmore said. “We can’t talk until March. But that’s the goal, because I think we do have the pieces to get to where we want to go, and I want to be a part of that.”
It makes sense that Stephon Gilmore would want to come back to the Cowboys, as the team has the pieces to make a deep postseason run and Gilmore is at the age where he will probably prioritize winning. However, Dallas might not have room for him. The team is currently $20 million over the salary cap and already has two reliable starters in DaRon Bland and Trevon Diggs. Gilmore isn’t going to play for free, and cornerback isn’t exactly a need for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys have a championship-caliber roster, but they’re far from the only contenders who could use a player like Stephon Gilmore. Perhaps Dallas finds a way to make the money work, but there is a good chance that Gilmore finds a new home in free agency. In no particular order, these five teams make the most sense.
Possible Free Agent Destinations
The Baltimore Ravens had one of the best defenses in the league last year. However, their biggest weakness was at the cornerback position. Marlon Humphrey started to show signs of age and the rest of the depth chart is nothing special. Stephon Gilmore isn’t the dominant lockdown corner he used to be, but he was still an above-average starter for the Cowboys. Even though he is getting up there in years, he should have enough left in his tank to help get this team over the hurdle and into the Super Bowl.
The Jacksonville Jaguars collapsed down the stretch last year, largely because the defense couldn’t pull its weight. Trevor Lawrence wasn’t the same after suffering an ankle injury, and the defense needed to carry the burden while Lawrence got back to full strength. That didn’t happen, as Jacksonville missed the playoffs and failed to build on their promising 2022. Jacksonville shares a division with C.J. Stroud, which means they’ll need good cornerbacks if they want to slow him down and win the AFC South. Stephon Gilmore is one of the better options set to hit the open market and the former Cowboy should help the Jaguars get back on track in 2024.
Los Angeles Chargers
It’s hard to be a bad team when Justin Herbert is your quarterback, but the Los Angeles Chargers found a way. Despite having a top-five quarterback, the team finished with a 5-12 record because of their atrocious defense. Despite having a respectable pass rush, this defense couldn’t stop anything, and it’s all because of the secondary. Chargers fans might be apprehensive about signing a cornerback who once dominated with the New England Patriots, but Stephon Gilmore’s track record with the Cowboys, Colts, Panthers, and Bills shows he can thrive in a variety of schemes.
The Detroit Lions have a championship-caliber offense. Now, it’s time for them to fix the defense. While Dan Campbell’s fourth down decision-making took some heat during their NFC Championship loss, the real reason for the collapse was that their secondary couldn’t cover anybody in clear passing situations. Stephon Gilmore isn’t capable of fixing this all on his own, but the current Cowboys cornerback would probably be the best defensive back on the roster. With over $48 million in cap space, Detroit should be able to sign Gilmore without impacting their ability to add depth to the roster.
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores has one of the most aggressive schemes in the league, and it only works if he has cornerbacks capable of holding up in man coverage. Back in 2018, Gilmore was arguably the most important player in Flores’ championship defense, and the two could reunite in free agency. Obviously, Gilmore is no longer capable of taking away an entire side of the field, but he’s still capable of starting on a team that should have championship aspirations, assuming they don’t lose their star players.
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