Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks will ultimately be judged by what they do in the regular season, but the Dallas Cowboys are thrilled by what they've seen from their big offseason acquisitions at training camp in Oxnard.
On top of getting loose for multiple long touchdowns, Cooks has looked un-coverable on intermediate routes. His chemistry with Dak Prescott is already apparent and he's embraced a mentorship role for Dallas' younger receivers, including CeeDee Lamb.
Gilmore hasn't made as many splash plays. He's still waiting for his first camp interception, but his impact has been just as seismic.
The Cowboys didn't give up much to acquire Gilmore, which begs the question of how many teams tried prying him from Indianapolis.
According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, Dallas had only one serious competitor: Gilmore's former team, the New England Patriots.
Cowboys Rumors: Patriots tried trading for Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore enjoyed his best seasons in the NFL with the Patriots.
Like numerous players in the Bill Belichick era before him, though, Gilmore didn't receive a hero's sendoff when his relationship with the franchise had run its course, which makes it all the more comical that Belichick (purportedly) circled back to Gilmore this offseason to bolster his shaky cornerback room.
Gilmore suffered a torn quad in Week 15 of the 2020 season. That injury ended his season and delayed his return to the field the following year. At the time, Gilmore wanted a new contract to reflect his status as an elite cornerback.
Due to cap constraints, the injury and growing tension amid Gilmore's contract demands, the Patriots planned to release the five-time Pro Bowler before the Panthers swooped in and gave up a 2023 sixth round pick to acquire him.
Odds are Gilmore was informed that the Patriots tried rekindling their relationship. It's unclear if he would've been open to the move, but the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year is thrilled to be with the Cowboys -- the team he and his family rooted for growing up.
“I was really excited,” Gilmore said via Howe. “This was one of the places I wanted to come, probably my No. 1 place, so I’m happy we got it done.”
Doesn't sound like Gilmore wanted any part of going back to Foxborough.
It's admittedly surprising more teams didn't show interest in Gilmore. Though entering his age-33 season, he was borderline elite with Indianapolis last season and only went for a 2023 fifth-round pick.
Perhaps it's a testament to the savviness of the Cowboys front office that they had so little competition to net Gilmore. Whatever the case, it's clear Dallas wasn't going to let the rebuilding Patriots outbid them for No. 21.