Free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore wants to return to the Dallas Cowboys in 2024 and finish what he started last season. While appearing as a guest on 105.3 The Fan, along with best friend and Cowboys receiver Brandin Cooks, Gilmore sounded like he decided where he wanted to be for his 13th year.
#Cowboys Stephon Gilmore talking with @gbagnation on wanting to come back to Dallas another year.— Brandon Loree (@Brandoniswrite) February 9, 2024
“I for sure think we have the pieces to get where we want to be, and I want to be a part of that.”
Brandin Cooks also mentioned he’d love to have him back
( : @1053thefan) pic.twitter.com/at6pbL9M6V
Gilmore’s return would be welcomed, considering the secondary could lose a few players to free agency. Joining Gilmore in free agency will be starters Jourdan Lewis and Jayron Kearse. With Dan Quinn heading to Washington as head coach of the Commanders, either one, or both of those guys, could follow him there.
Of the three players, Gilmore makes the most sense to stay with Dallas, given his relationship with Cooks and wanting another crack at a Super Bowl with a competitor. Lewis and Kearse could wish to do the same, but their overall price tag might be higher, given they’re younger players and could want long-term deals that would tie up salary cap. All three could also end up in Dallas, but the unknown should make Gilmore a priority.
Another reason a return from Gilmore would be substantial is that it doesn’t rush All-Pro Trevon Diggs to return too soon from a torn ACL. The Cowboys recently saw with Michael Gallup and Terence Steele how returning from a significant knee injury the following season could still limit their play.
Giving Diggs ample time to recover would place Gilmore and All-Pro DaRon Bland as the starting outside corners, which was shown to be a strong combination in 2023. Bland led the NFL with nine interceptions, and Gilmore was solid in coverage all year, leading the defense in over 600 snaps in coverage.
Gilmore’s reliability and availability proved to be two of his strongest attributes as a veteran player. Even in his 12th season, he showed he could still be a lockdown corner if the defense needed him to step up in that role. After D.K. Metcalf had his way with Bland in the first half against the Seahawks, Quinn adjusted to have Gilmore follow Metcalf, and it turned out to be the right move. Even against the Eagles at home, No. 21 was called old by A.J. Brown, which set Gilmore off to have his best game of the season.
Another bonus of having Gilmore back is the continued leadership on a young defense and secondary, under a new coordinator in Mike Zimmer. Bland and Diggs spoke highly of Gilmore leading by example, and teaching them how to be even bigger professionals in the position. The front office can’t put a price tag on those leadership skills that could prove valuable in the near future.
After his torn labrum surgery, Gilmore should be ready by the start of training camp if he re-signs with Dallas. The reported timeline is around four to six months. Gilmore also took time last offseason to improve his explosion and lateral quickness in England with Tom Joyce, who works with soccer players in England, showing the willingness to play faster despite his age.
With free agency starting in roughly a month, more news should come out about the Cowboys’ intentions with their players not under contract. One of Dallas’ best moves in 2023 was trading for Stephon Gilmore. Re-signing Gilmore would be a great start if they want to stay true to that all-in approach Jerry Jones spoke of a few weeks ago.