Gilmore played the 2021 season with the Carolina Panthers, who traded a 2023 third-round pick to the New England Patriots in October. The Panthers added the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in hopes that he could replace first-round pick Jaycee Horn, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 3 at the Houston Texans.
Gilmore, 31, was on the physically unable to perform list when he arrived in Carolina, still recovering from offseason surgery on a torn quad and not eligible to return until Week 6. He was activated in Week 8 and played the final eight games, starting three. He had an interception in his Carolina debut at Atlanta to preserve a 19-13 victory then followed that with another in his home debut against New England. After the season, he was added to the Pro Bowl, his fifth, as an alternate.
He said after the trade that he did not appreciate the way New England handled his quad injury, suffered in Week 15 of the 2020 season.
Gilmore, who grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, had told ESPN before a late-season game at Buffalo that he would like to return to Carolina. The Panthers liked the veteran leadership brought to a young Carolina secondary. Complicating the issue was 2018 second-round pick Donte Jackson, 26, who re-signed with the Panthers on a three-year deal last month.
The 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Bills, Gilmore has 27 interceptions and 116 passes defended in 10 seasons.
ESPN’s David Newton contributed to this report.