On Saturday night the NFL announced that Stephon Gilmore won the NFL's 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, the first Patriot to ever garner the award. It's a fitting cap to what was an outstanding season for Gilmore, who was also voted first team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl.
Since arriving in 2017 on a huge five-year, $65 million deal, Gilmore has ascended as the best corner in the game. Aside from shutting down top opponents every week, he has also made his share of clutch plays, including huge interceptions in the 2017 AFC Championship as well as Super Bowl 53, both of which helped seal victories.
In 2019 the Patriots defense got off to a white-hot start and ended up leading the league in every important defensive statistic. With experience and talent at all three levels, it was one of the best defensive seasons in team history and at the center of it was Gilmore, taking impact targets like Amari Cooper, Odell Beckham and Zach Ertz out of games.
On the season, Gilmore finished tied for the league lead with six interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, the first scores of his career. He also led the league with 20 passes defensed and held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 44.1.
With much uncertainty headed into this offseason, Gilmore, with two more years remaining on his deal, remains one constant that the Patriots can count on. The team could need him more than ever in 2020 with potential turnover in the secondary for the first time in the last few seasons.