Stephon Gilmore takes aged-focused shot amid Carolina Panthers rumors

The cornerback spoke out about why he remains unsigned.
Stephon Gilmore
Stephon Gilmore / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After the excitement surrounding a potential return to the Carolina Panthers for cornerback Stephon Gilmore before the 2024 NFL Draft, things seem to have cooled off. Joe Person of The Athletic stated that there had been no movement regarding the transaction despite general manager Dan Morgan claiming it might be revisited once the college selection process concluded. This indicates a level of hesitancy for one reason or another.

Gilmore was reportedly eager to reunite with former high school and college teammate Jadeveon Clowney by the edge rusher's admission. This would be a dream, but the NFL is a completely different reality more often than not.

Stephon Gilmore highlights age factor as Carolina Panthers speculation cools

The one-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year broke his silence to league insider Josina Anderson during a call. Gilmore revealed that he's still interested in playing. At the same time, he knows his worth and won't be taking a discount from teams looking to potentially lowball him because of his advancing years.

"I’m still focused on playing, but it has to be the right opportunity. I feel like it’s the age thing with some of these teams. If I was 28, I would already have been signed by now; at the same time, I know the value I still bring. If you watch the tape, I feel like I played well the last two years, and literally almost played every snap last year. So I’m staying patient, while watching my son who’s a wide receiver and cornerback lock people up on the field with his defensive back skills too."

Whether this was a slight at the Panthers is anyone's guess. They probably aren't the only team to reach out, so this could be a collective swipe rather than focusing on one team in particular.

Something might still happen between the Panthers and Gilmore. Things are hanging precariously in Carolina's cornerback room - not for the first time in recent years. Another injury to their best outside coverage presence Jaycee Horn would be catastrophic no matter how high Morgan is on free-agent signing Dane Jackson, who's proven to be nothing more than a situational defensive back throughout his career.

The Panthers could use the waiver wire with first refusal on any released players this offseason to solidify the ranks. No cornerback deemed surplus to requirements elsewhere will come with Gilmore's accomplishments or connection to the region. But of course, this has to make business sense before anything else.

With every day that passes, the chances of Gilmore and the Panthers reuniting following the player's acrimonious departure in 2021 diminish. Teams with better chances to contend will come calling at some stage. The home factor only holds weight for so long, especially if those in power haven't offered the correct financial package, which could be the last of his playing days.

Gilmore's earned the right to bide his time and wait. It might end up being Carolina. It might be elsewhere. But his latest comments mean this saga could go on for a while yet.