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The New England Patriots and representatives for cornerback Stephon Gilmore talked over the past 24 hours about a restructured contract because the team needed to create some salary cap space to allow it to make moves for the remainder of the 2021 season.
And Gilmore was initially open to the discussion, but when they turned to him accepting less money than his reps told him he could get on the open market or if he were traded, that was it.
End of negotiations.
Gilmore has been traded to the Carolina Panthers, NFL sources confirmed to OutKick.
The Patriots will receive late-round draft pick consideration for Gilmore instead of keeping the former Pro Bowl cornerback — because, you see, the days of players taking pay cuts or less money to play for the Patriots are over.
They ended when Tom Brady left town.
Time after time the past 15 years or so before Brady left to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots had the luxury of luring top players without necessarily paying them as much as other teams might.
Big names or important contributors such as Junior Seau, Danny Amendola, Antonio Brown, Rex Burkhead, Patrick Chung (after his Eagles experience) and others agreed to join the Patriots — often for less than market price — because they wanted to play for a winner and with Brady.
New England’s own players, seeing Brady often take less money than other premium quarterbacks, tested the free agency market but often returned to the Patriots for less.
Again, the Brady effect and the lure of winning Super Bowls played a big role.
But it’s a new day for the New England Patriots.
Mac Jones may become very good someday. But nobody is signing or sticking with the Patriots for less money because of the rookie quarterback.
When Brady signed with the Buccaneers, on the other hand, suddenly veterans were clamoring to go there. Running back Leonard Fournette did. Brown did. Richard Sherman did. And Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to play with his old buddy Brady.
So what we’ve got now is some classy good-byes
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my good-bye to the great fan base,” Gilmore said in a statement. “We enjoyed so much success together and you have been an incredible inspiration for my individual achievements.”
The parting of such sweet sorrow (Shakespeare) was echoed by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots will save a prorated portion of Gilmore’s salary once he’s off their books. It would have been $7.7 million in savings if they’d taken the step earlier, per overthecap.com, but now the amount will hover in the $5.8 million range.
The Panthers inherit Gilmore’s contract, which expires after this season. The deal might be a sign they’d like to extend the cornerback after the season.
In the meantime, the acquisition immediately helps fill the void created by the loss of rookie Jaycee Horn for an extended period of time when he broke his foot.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero