The New England Patriots are releasing Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore, with coach Bill Belichick saying in a statement that the star and the team had "agreed to part ways" on Wednesday.
The Carolina Panthers later said they'd traded for the veteran, sending a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England. The two teams face off in Week 9 in North Carolina -- where Gilmore is from.
Gilmore had won a Super Bowl with the Patriots, and Belichick recognized "his significant contributions to our team."
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news Wednesday morning.
Gilmore was eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform List after Week 6 as he continues his recovery from an injury.
Schefter said the move will give the Patriots needed financial flexibility. The team had been working with Gilmore to restructure his contract but the two sides had been unable to come to terms.
He said the market for Gilmore, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year two years ago, "is expected to be robust."
Gilmore released a statement on Twitter on Wednesday morning announcing his departure.
"It is with mixed emotions that I announce my goodbye to this great fan base. We enjoyed so much success together and you have been an incredible inspiration for my individual achievements," he said. "To Mr. Kraft, the coaches, and the organization thank you for providing me with this platform and allowing me to be part of greatness. Most of all I want to thank my teammates who lined up next to me every Sunday with one goal in mind."
"Those moments on and off the field will never be forgotten."
Gilmore sat out both the voluntary and mandatory portions of New England’s offseason program in May and June. He will turn 31 in September and tied a career low with one interception last season.
He appeared in just 11 games after missing time due to a COVID-19 diagnosis and a season-ending quadriceps injury late in the season that required offseason surgery.
The Week 9 game between Gilmore's new team and the Patriots will be another emotionally tinged battle after Tom Brady returned to New England.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.