The Panthers acquired Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year and four-time Pro Bowler, in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick, the team announced on its website.
Bill Belichick released a statement earlier saying the decision to release Gilmore was “mutually agreed” on but the Panthers brokered a deal before the veteran cornerback was able to hit the free agency market.
“I am grateful to Stephon Gilmore for his significant contributions to our team,” his statement read. “It was a privilege and pleasure to coach Steph, I appreciate him for the true professional and class act that he is and wish him all the best in the future.”
Gilmore was entering his fifth season with the Patriots and was eligible to return from the Physically Unable to Play list after Week 6 but according to the NFL Network, he was unable to reach a new deal with the Patriots following surgery to repair a quadriceps injury.
He signed a five-year, $ 65 million deal with the Patriots in 2017 but was reportedly looking for a new deal that made him among the top paid cornerbacks in the league.
The Panthers will be on the hook for the remaining portion of Gilmore’s $ 7 million contract — about $ 5.4 million — but the team could look to give him a contract extension before the season is over if things go well. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.