Fresh doubts raised over Carolina Panthers quest for Stephon Gilmore

The scenario is looking increasingly unlikely.
Stephon Gilmore
Stephon Gilmore / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers have stopped at nothing to bolster their roster this offseason. Dan Morgan focused his big investments on offense in pursuit of assisting quarterback Bryce Young. While this could help the promising signal-caller surge forward after a rookie campaign to forget, it's left certain defensive depth chart groups exposed.

One of the biggest potential complications is the cornerback unit. Their success is almost entirely dependent on former first-round pick Jaycee Horn staying healthy. Should the gifted shutdown presence miss more time due to injury, it'll be catastrophic.

This is a period of assessment. Morgan needs to take stock of his roster and determine what more is needed. Don't be surprised if the new general manager makes further tweaks before training camp or the regular season.

Carolina Panthers won't be held to ransom by Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore's name remains heavily linked. The veteran corner had an interest in returning to the Panthers earlier this offseason. While the lines of communication remain open, the one-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year won't be taking a discount to end his playing days closer to his family residence.

Nothing has been dismissed entirely. Gilmore stated recently that he's biding his time and waiting for the right offer to come along. Darin Gantt from the team's website went one step further, outlining his doubt that his return to Carolina would happen given the current state of affairs.

"And I could turn out to be wrong, but I still don't think the Stephon Gilmore thing is as likely as some people think. Listening to Clowney talk about his old high school teammate, it's clear this is a money thing — as in Gilmore still wants a lot of it. They'd love to have him, and he'd likely appreciate staying at home, but he also is likely to find someone to pay him what he's worth in an open market. So if it's healthy Horn, Dane Jackson, a solid veteran nickel in Troy Hill, and some interesting young parts, you can work with that."

Darin Gantt,

The Panthers might be happy with what they have, which is fine. However, one cannot emphasize enough what a risk it would be going into the campaign without another capable cornerback.

Dane Jackson needs to prove he's a viable starter. Troy Hill's advancing age means his production might regress. The young players all come with questions. We've already spoken about Horn's injury history and the need to be a dependable coverage presence entering Year 4 of his professional career.

Gilmore still has a lot of good football left and performed well for the Dallas Cowboys last season. He'd be a tremendous addition on and off the field, but the Panthers don't have much money to spend. That makes working out a deal with the South Carolina product difficult unless some compromises are reached.

A large section of fans are clamoring for the Panthers to sign Gilmore. He's a popular figure and was treated harshly by the previous regime following his trade. At the same time, Morgan and Brandt Tilis are running the football operation with more professionalism. If they perceive his demands as too high, alternatives will be sought.

That seems like the most realistic outcome right now. However, until something gets confirmed one way or another, there's always hope.