Packers in Cruise Control
After seven weeks of the season, no one has won anything and much can change between now and January. However, if we look at the current state of the NFC North, it’s clear that it is a two-horse race between the Packers and the Bears. But it should be noted Chicago has issues on offense and it would be a stretch to believe they can compete with the high-octane Packers despite a Bears’ defense that is among the very best in the league.
Last week Green Bay rebounded from a lopsided loss to the Bucs and scored a convincing, 35-20, decision against the Texans in Houston. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are quickly becoming the most explosive pass/catch combo in the NFL and there is little that can stop them unless the pass protection breaks down and Rodgers gets swarmed.
Ironically, one of the areas in which the Packers could bolster their chances of making a deep run in the playoffs, if not a Super Bowl appearance, is at wide receiver. As good as Adams is, he would be even better if the Packers offered a dual-threat.
At this point, they don’t have a serviceable decoy but perhaps swinging a deal for Brandin Cooks, Wil Fuller, or even a seismic trade with the Falcons for Julio Jones, would put the division on lock and make Green Bay a legitimate Super Bowl threat.
Those who like to back their opinions with cold, hard cash will find that top-notch Bovada has the Packers at +400 to win the NFC, trailing only Tampa Bay and Seattle while their Super Bowl odds currently sit at +900. If the Packers can enrich their receiving corps, you can expect to see those odds shrink even further.
Pats Shopping Gilmore?
Rumor has it that New England’s All-Pro cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, has put his Foxborough house on the market. And if that is indeed the case, it would serve as a shot across the bow that he is headed elsewhere, sooner than later.
But NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport isn’t so sure, “I don’t know what to make of it, honestly. I’ve been through this before where star players or coaches or whoever put their house on the market. Sometimes it means they’re getting traded and sometimes it means they are just buying a new house.”
The Patriots’ secondary is their strongest suit this season and Gilmore is the leader of that talented group. However, his play has slipped from a year ago when he was voted the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Nevertheless, Gilmore is still one of the preeminent corners in the league and would be coveted by any team to add to their defensive backfield.
Rapoport elaborated on Gilmore’s value, “He is still one of the best players in football. I don’t think his value is going down any way. Especially the position he plays, yes, a good pass rush can help. But I don’t think anyone’s going to be like OK now because the Patriots defense doesn’t look great Gilmore is now not as valuable as he was. To me, he is still very valuable, very good. I would say if he wants a new deal, which he probably will after this year, I think he wanted it before this year, but now definitely will after this year, it’s really a question of are the Patriots going to give it, or is it going to be someone else?”
Gilmore has one year left on his contract at a base pay of what will be $7 million in 2021. It’s a foregone conclusion he won’t set foot on the field until he gets a new deal for much bigger money. But teams are often reluctant to dole out big bucks to players north of 30-years-old, and when next season kicks, Gilmore will be 31 and looking for big money over the next three or four years.
The Patriots have an excellent track record of dispensing of players right before their expiration date and it would be an anomaly for owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick to lavish tens of millions on a player whose peak years are in his rearview mirror. Therefore, it could very well make sense to deal Gilmore for a first-round pick and perhaps a wide receiver.
If the Patriots feel they could have a shot at a playoff spot this season, despite their 2-4 record, maybe they dangle Gilmore straight up for New Orleans’ Michael Thomas or Atlanta’s Julio Jones? New England desperately needs to upgrade at wideout and Gilmore could get them that weapon.
The next few weeks will tell the tale as to which direction this team is headed, and if it’s south, one would suspect Gilmore will be shipped to a playoff contender while the Patriots wistfully recall their two decades of domination.