Door creeps open for the Cowboys to re-sign Stephon Gilmore

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders
Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders / Kara Durrette/GettyImages

At this point, it's fair to assume that the Dallas Cowboys won't make another free-agent signing before the NFL Draft. At the league meetings last week, Mike McCarthy all but confirmed the team will be players in the post-June 1 release market. There are some intriguing names to watch in that regard, but suffice it to say they all pale in comparison to Stephon Gilmore.

It's a tad surprising that Gilmore is still a free agent. Perhaps teams have been dissuaded by his asking price, or maybe Gilmore is just waiting for the right opportunity.

Previously, Gilmore had been linked with a return to the Panthers. Former high school and college teammate Jadeveon Clowney has recruited Gilmore to Carolina and went as far as to say that Gilmore is angling for a move to the NFC South club.

Since then, Cowboys fans have been waiting for the notification that Gilmore has signed with the Panthers. However, that move is seemingly up in the air after Panthers writer Darin Gantt laid out reasons why the veteran cornerback won't re-join his former team.

Cowboys must swoop in for Stephon Gilmore after reported Panthers holdout

Gantt outlined that Clowney is the only player outside the organization Carolina has signed who is over 30 years old. Clowney had one of the best seasons of his career in 2023 and the Panthers were in dire need of a pass rusher after they traded Brian Burns to the Giants.

"The Panthers are not deep at corner, but they're not the same kind of shallow they were at outside linebacker. If Gilmore was 29, or even 31 again, this deal might already be done. But he's not. He doesn't have to run extremely well to play his game (when you run a receiver's route for him like he did on the 2021 interception at Atlanta, you need to be smarter than fast), but they do need someone who can move. He's a great player. This might not be as much of a fit as it was three years ago."

It seems the Panthers had to choose between Clowney and Gilmore. As of this writing, Carolina has just $4.907 million in cap space. Gilmore will cost more than that, and the team must set aside at least $8 million to sign its 2024 draft class.

The Panthers aren't flush with depth at cornerback, but Jaycee Horn, Dane Jackson and Troy Hill form a serviceable starting trio. Clowney, meanwhile, was a must-have after Carolina lost Burns and linebacker Frankie Luvu, who last season combined to log half of the team's total sack output.

This doesn't shut the door on Gilmore returning to the Panthers, but it's not the sure thing it appeared to be just a couple of days ago. There's a prime opportunity here for the Cowboys to swoop in and steal Gilmore just as fans abandoned hope that he'd be back.

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