Why the Colts traded Stephon Gilmore to the Cowboys

Stephon Gilmore’s run with the Colts lasted a single season.

Indianapolis has traded the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year to the Cowboys in exchange for a fifth-round compensatory pick, a source confirmed to the Indy Star. NFL Network first reported the news.

The Colts will receive pick No. 176, the later of the Cowboys’ two compensatory fifth-rounders. It gives the Colts it a third pick in the round after they acquired one from the Bills in the Nyheim Hines trade last fall.

Gilmore, 32, signed with the Colts last offseason on a two-year, $20 million deal. The trade clears $9.9 million on the salary cap this season, giving the Colts some more breathing room during the first week of free agency.

Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore made a few game-changing plays in his one season with the Indianapolis Colts.

Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore made a few game-changing plays in his one season with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gilmore signed with Indianapolis because he wanted to join a contender, and the Colts had recently acquired quarterback Matt Ryan in what appeared like a contending window. Ryan didn’t pan out in Indianapolis, and the team went 4-12-1 amid a combination of issues that resulted in Frank Reich being fired at midseason.

Gilmore still had a strong season, starting 16 games and intercepting two passes as the Colts’ top outside cornerback. He sealed victories over the Chiefs, Broncos and Raiders with pass break-ups on the final possession. He was a resource constantly helping younger players in the defensive backs room.

But as Indianapolis is in a transition period with new coach Shane Steichen and what will likely be a rookie quarterback, the Colts front office found value in resetting at the top cornerback spot. Now, Gilmore heads to another contender in the Cowboys, who are fresh off an AFC East title and should field a strong team again with Dak Prescott in his prime.

The trade creates some immediate and long-term needs. Kenny Moore II and Isaiah Rodgers Sr. are left among starting cornerbacks and both are in contract years. The Colts also let part-time starter Brandon Facyson walk to the Raiders this offseason as a free agent, dropping the roster to a point where veteran signings and draft picks have to both be on the table.

Contact Colts insider Nate Atkins at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @NateAtkins_.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts trade Stephon Gilmore to the Cowboys