The Dallas Cowboys made a big-time upgrade at a big-time need. The Indianapolis Colts created cap space but also downgraded their defense.
We get into all of that and much more as we grade the Stephon Gilmore trade, which the Colts and Cowboys worked out on the last full day of the NFL league year.
Grading the Stephon Gilmore Trade
The Cowboys are sending a fifth-round pick to Indianapolis for Gilmore, who proved that there’s plenty of life left in his 30-something legs last season.
The Cowboys inherit his remaining salary — $9.9 million in both base and bonuses. The Colts, meanwhile, incurred just a $2 million cap hit to move on from the five-time Pro Bowler.
The Missing Piece for the Dallas Cowboys D?
Gilmore joins Trevon Diggs, DaRon Bland, Jourdan Lewis, and Kelvin Joseph in what, on paper, is a daunting defensive backfield.
That secondary will also include Donovan Wilson, who agreed to a three-year deal worth a reported max of $24 million on Tuesday.
Gilmore might be the best of the bunch. In his lone season with the Colts in 2022, he allowed just 56.2% of his targets to be completed, allowing 6.5 yards per catch and a paltry passer rating of 74.
For the Cowboys, he’s a perfect short-term fix to what had become a big-time problem as the season progressed.
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Over the last five weeks of the season, the Cowboys ranked 29th in dropback EPA (.12) and 28th in dropback success rate.
The trade leaves the Cowboys with just $10 million in cap space, but more will free up once they address Ezekiel Elliott’s contract.
But why trade for Gilmore in particular? “Pro Bowl-level corner that fits scheme. Can play all coverages we like,” a Cowboys source explained to NFL Media.
Indianapolis Colts Defense Has a Big Hole
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an organization with less invested at cornerback right now.
The Colts have less than $14 million in cap space allocated to corner in 2023, and they haven’t used a first-round pick on the position since 2005.
So lots of luck to Gus Bradley, who actually did a good job in a lost season. Bradley managed to survive Indy’s coaching turnover but now faces an unenviable task without Gilmore on the boundary.
The Colts’ top-returning corners from a usage perspective are Kenny Moore, Isaiah Rodgers, and Dallis Flowers.
The good news? They now have 10 draft picks to bulk up that very thin position group. But it’s wild to think that a fifth-rounder was the best they could get.
Stephon Gilmore Gets to Ring Chase
Gilmore goes from one of the NFL’s worst rosters to one of its best. And playing behind what should again be a fearsome pass rush, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to add to his 29 career interceptions.
From a future earnings standpoint, little has probably changed for Gilmore. He’s past his prime earnings days.
But a second Super Bowl ring and another All-Pro couldn’t hurt his sneaky strong Hall of Fame candidacy.