Panthers cornerback Stephon Gilmore did not agree with how the Patriots handled his torn quadricep injury.
Gilmore, 31, suffered the injury in Week 15 last season and underwent surgery in December of 2020. Gilmore never played another down for New England and was traded on Oct. 6 to the Panthers. We now know why Gilmore and the Patriots elected to part ways.
“I just didn’t like how they handled my situation, my injury. A lot went on with that I didn’t agree with,” Gilmore said on Wednesday. “Now that I’m here, I’m able to do the things I have to do to get me back ready to where I need to be. I learned a lot there. I have a lot of friends there. A lot of great coaches. I just didn’t like how they handled my situation with my injury.”
Gilmore finally made his return on Sunday in the Panthers’ 19-13 win over the Falcons. He looked every bit the same as he did in 2019, when he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Gilmore played just 17 snaps but was able to intercept a pass from quarterback Matt Ryan.
Gilmore’s injury wasn’t the only reason he wanted out, however. Gilmore was looking to re-up on his current $7 million salary, which he believed was below what his ability should garner. Gilmore is in his thirties and has injury concerns, so Patriots head coach Bill Belichick decided he wouldn’t be the one to give him a pay raise.
“That’s a reason also, too,” Gilmore said. “But a lot goes on into it. It’s not just one specific thing. At the end of the day, it’s a business. They treat it like a business, and we made the best decision for each other. … We had a conversation and it was better for both of us to go in opposite directions, whether it was the contract or whatever.”
Heading into Week 9, Gilmore now has his chance to get revenge on his former team. The Panthers (4-4) will host the Patriots (4-4) at 1:00 p.m. on CBS. A two-point favorite per FanDuel Sportsbook, the Patriots will have to account for Gilmore when he’s on the field.
Asked about Gilmore’s time in New England, Belichick didn’t say much.
“I have a ton of respect for him,” Belichick said.