The Tennessee Titans‘ defensive backs have struggled in 2020, and rumors are abounding that one of the best DBs in the league, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, is on the trade block.
While there have been no reports directly tying the Titans to Gilmore, it would make sense if they had interested in the Patriots cornerback.
Here’s what a trade for Gilmore would probably look like for the Titans
CONTRACT AND CAP SPACE
Could Stephon Gilmore be on the move? 👀 pic.twitter.com/SsSwBPLxIp
— PFF (@PFF) October 27, 2020
Gilmore is currently in the fourth season of the five-year, $65 million deal he signed with New England in 2017 free agency.
The deal still has around $18 million worth of guaranteed money that Gilmore has yet to be paid. If the Patriots trade Gilmore, they would be the ones responsible for that $18 million, which would be split between the team’s 2020 and 2021 salary caps.
The team that acquires Gilmore in a potential trade would be responsible for the remainder of his base salary during the second half of 2020 and all of 2021.
Those totals would be around $8.4 million for the rest of 2020 and $7.5 million in 2021.
The Titans currently have just over $8.3 million of remaining cap space for 2020, according to Over the Cap.
That means that the Titans would probably have to release a veteran player or two to make room for Gilmore. Releasing CB Tye Smith and OL Jamil Douglas would probably make the most sense.
It would be a tight fit, but the Titans definitely have the cap flexibility in 2020 for Gilmore if they want him.
As the trade deadline approaches… players traded for a 1st round pick since 2018. pic.twitter.com/yw4UxS5qVk
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 27, 2020
Though Gilmore is less than a season removed from being the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, the Patriots probably don’t have a shot at getting top-end compensation for him.
Since 2018, 10 NFL players have been traded for a package that included a first-round pick. The oldest of those players was LB Khalil Mack, who was 27 when the Raiders traded him to Chicago.
Gilmore, in contrast, is already 30. It would be hard to imagine any team being willing to give up a first-round pick for a player who is likely nearing the end of his prime.
It seems reasonable to assume, therefore, that bidding for Gilmore wouldn’t go any higher than a second-round pick. There’s probably also a reasonable chance that he could be had for a third-round pick with perhaps a sixth- or seventh-rounder tacked on.
WOULD THE TITANS DO IT?
— Buck Reising😷 (@BuckReising) October 27, 2020
The Titans’ defense has been a big weakness in 2020, particularly on third downs.
Gilmore, a big, physical, man-coverage cornerback, would probably make a big difference. He and a healthy Adoree’ Jackson would be a difficult duo for receivers to face.
The Titans also shouldn’t be terribly worried about giving up a second- or third-rounder for Gilmore, as they’re in the realm of Super Bowl contention and need to be worried about playing for now, not playing for the future.
Additionally, since the Titans figure to finish 2020 with a great record, any picks they give up would be lower picks.
However, the Titans’ salary cap is what makes this difficult to envision. Gilmore would be a very tight fit in 2020, and the Titans have a handful of long-term deals they’ll need the space to work out for 2021.
A Titans trade for Gilmore seems possible, but not likely.
Cover image: Greg M. Cooper/USA Today