Chiefs salary cap situation makes them an unlikely landing spot for CB Stephon Gilmore


The New England Patriots plan to cut ties with four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore. They’ll either release him or they’ll try to agree to trade him before the league processes their daily transactions.

Kansas City Chiefs fans are clamoring for any defensive help the team can possibly get and the team could certainly use some help on the defensive side of the ball. Steve Spagnuolo’s unit has hardly lived up to expectations this season and through four weeks of play, they’ve been one of the worst units in the league. Adding a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year at cornerback should be right at the top of their list, but it comes at a cost and one that seems the Chiefs won’t be able to afford.

Gilmore has spent the 2021 NFL season on the PUP list with a quad injury, but he’d also been holding out for more money in the final year of his contract with the team. The two sides weren’t able to come to an amicable agreement, ultimately resulting in his trade or release later today. According to USA TODAY reporter Josina Anderson, Gilmore is looking to earn $15 million per year annually on the open market this season.

The Chiefs right now have $3.1 million in salary-cap space according to the NFLPA’s public salary cap report. A trade for his current contract could be feasible if the team could free some additional cap space and convince the cornerback to play on his current deal. It seems unlikely that would happen given his desire for an extension. It also seems unlikely that the team has a move to free the additional space needed. They’ve been entirely unwilling to consider extending a player like Tyrann Mathieu in order to free space. Beyond that, they just don’t have many salary-cap saving moves.

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Let’s say that Gilmore decided to play on his current deal or take a veteran prove-it contract as a free agent to earn an extension next season. Why would he choose Kansas City as a place to broadcast his talents? Sure he’d play in big games, but what type of help is he getting from the defense around him? The Chiefs’ pass rush is tied for the third-fewest sacks through four games, but they’re also tied for the 10th-most pressures. The secondary has allowed the most passing touchdowns in the league and the fifth-most passing yards so far this season.

Brett Veach, Brandt Tillis and Chris Shea should do everything in their power to try and make the money work — that’s their job after all. At the end of the day, between the money and everything else that Gilmore will be considering, it seems unlikely that a deal could come to fruition.

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