Carolina Panthers face significant hurdles in Stephon Gilmore pursuit

Could the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year come back?

Stephon Gilmore
Stephon Gilmore / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers reportedly reached out to cornerback Stephon Gilmore about a return, but there are many hurdles to overcome.

It's no secret that the Carolina Panthers are looking for cornerback help. Jaycee Horn's inability to stay healthy coupled with trading Donte Jackson to the Pittsburgh Steelers dictate as much. Signing Dane Jackson and bringing back Troy Hill should assist from a depth standpoint, but more is needed.

One rumor, in particular, sent the fanbase into a collective frenzy on social media.

According to Joe Person of The Athletic, those in power have reached out to Stephon Gilmore about a potential return. This would be nothing short of shocking when one considers how he left the franchise in 2022.

Carolina Panthers must rebuild bridges with Stephon Gilmore

Gilmore was acquired via trade from the New England Patriots before his eventual release. He suffered some injury complications, but the production remained solid. Instead of keeping him around as a dependable veteran piece and quiet mentor to the likes of Horn, the previous regime opted to hand a lucrative extension to Jackson instead.

This left Gilmore free to sign for the Indianapolis Colts after making the Pro Bowl in Carolina. A trade to the Dallas Cowboys followed with some success, so the merits of bringing him back are evident when one considers how well the former South Carolina college star is performing into his 30s.

This sounds nice, but there should be nothing more than cautious optimism about the prospect of bringing Gilmore back. Apologies for being the bearer of bad news, but there appear to be some hurdles to overcome before this scenario becomes reality.

Stephon Gilmore made the Pro Bowl during his one season with the Carolina Panthers.
Stephon Gilmore / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Gilmore probably felt slighted by Carolina's decision to go in a different direction during his all-too-brief first spell with the organization. What Dan Morgan and others need to do is convince the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year that those who deemed him surplus to requirements are no longer around. Things are being done differently now as the Panthers look to remove the laughingstock tag and move back to respectability.

Easier said than done. But this is dependent on how Gilmore feels about the Panthers two years after his disappointing departure despite showing a willingness to stick around.

There's also Gilmore's career ambitions to factor into the equation. He isn't getting any younger at 33 years old. There aren't many seasons left in the player, so waiting around for a team that harbors better chances of contending could be a viable course of action from his perspective.

Considering the Panthers are rebuilding and planning with the future in mind, it's a tough sell for Gilmore. This would be predicated on playing closer to home to conclude a glittering career - something he hoped for when he came to Charlotte the first time around.

The Panthers must rebuild bridges with Gilmore now that the incompetent decision-makers of the past are gone. Then, Morgan and his staff must put together a proposal that intrigues the accomplished performer. Anything less would likely see this pursuit come to an unsuccessful conclusion.

It would be fantastic if Gilmore signed and considered a major coup by the Panthers if they can pull it off. However, tempering expectations until something becomes concrete would be a wise way to approach this issue.

Hey, at least the Panthers are trying to get better. That's something, at least.