Stephon Gilmore and the Detroit Lions are obviously no longer a match

It made sense as a fit when free agency started, but the Detroit Lions don't have room for Stephon Gilmore anymore.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, let's call it March, the Detroit Lions were in the market for cornerbacks via free agency, trade, the draft, whatever way they could upgrade the talent level of the room. Stephon Gilmore, even a little older heading into his age-34 season, was easy to point to as a nice potential fit.

But the Lions went other directions, trading for Carlton Davis, signing Amik Robertson and taking Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw in the draft. Emmanuel Moseley was also re-signed. Simply put, cornerback is no longer a need barring a major injury.

Now, well into June and with OTAs done around the league, Gilmore is still available. He's No. 1, or surely no lower than No. 2, on most any list of available free agents. That he's still available is not related to his performance last year with the Cowboys. He played in all 17 games, had 13 pass breakups and he was Pro Football Focus' 35th-ranked cornerback for the season on the whole (including playoffs).

Talking about his future last week, via MassLive, Gilmore was brief but pretty clear.

"Being patient right now," Gilmore said last Wednesday when asked about his NFL future on the red carpet of Tom Brady's Patriots Hall of Fame ceremony. "I feel good, Year 13, been playing a long time. So I'm just being patient and waiting for the right opportunity."  

So what does the right opportunity look like for Gilmore? A return to Dallas? A return to New England, where he spent four seasons? A contending team? The team that will pay him the most?

Stephon Gilmore and the Lions are clearly not a match anymore

An added layer in the previous conversation regarding Gilmore and the Lions is the fact his younger brother Steven is on the roster. And they are obviously a team with legit Super Bowl aspirations this year.

Fresh lists of possible landing spots for Gilmore have slowly come out. The Lions are on two such lists, most notably one from Garrett Podell of CBS Sports.

"The NFC runner-ups would fit Gilmore's desire to join a contender and give him an opportunity to mentor cornerbacks Terrion Arnold (24th overall pick) and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (61st overall pick), their first two picks of the 2024 NFL Draft, in a redone defensive backfield. Detroit also traded for former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl champion corner Carlton Davis, and Gilmore, along with Davis, could be steady veterans in what is shaping up to be a youthful defensive backfield for the Lions. "

The Lions are currently set to rely heavily on the rookies Arnold and Rakestraw. So someone of Gilmore's ilk could be made to make some sense, as a still-capable player and a veteran mentor.

Even if Gilmore wants to come to Detroit, and why wouldn't he?, it takes two to tango. The Lions probably have no interest in him at this point, and it would take a changed circumstance between now and Week 1 to change that.

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