The Patriots have checked just about every major box they needed to this offseason. However, one of the few remaining tasks on the to-do list involves one of their most important players.
After re-working his deal last summer, Stephon Gilmore is set to make just $7 million in 2021, in the final year of his contract. That would be a significant underpayment for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, with most top cornerbacks making almost $20 million. The expectation has been that Gilmore is due for a contract extension. Whether the Patriots give him that extension or trade him to a team that will has been the question.
Yet with what will likely be his final big pay day ahead of him, the 30-year-old isn’t in a rush to get things figured out. “That stuff will play out as it will,” Gilmore told Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. “I just try to take it day by day, and that’s all I can do.”
Last month, Albert Breer reported Gilmore would be open to an extension in New England. “I’m just happy to be a Patriot right now, and see how it goes,” Gilmore told Volin.
Late in the 2020 season Gilmore suffered a partially torn quad, which added another element to what was already going to be a turbulent offseason. Yet reports are that he’s healed well, with Gilmore himself saying “right now I feel great” and adding that he’s been able to work out to prepare for the upcoming season.
Complicating Gilmore’s situation further is his fellow starting cornerback, J.C. Jackson. The Patriots tendered Jackson as an RFA back in March, meaning he’s set to play for $3.31 million this year before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2022 – pending an offer sheet. Teams have until April 23 to offer Jackson a contract. If he gets an offer he likes, the Patriots can either match the deal and retain Jackson at that price, or let him go and receive a second-round pick.
The Patriots can’t afford to lose both Gilmore and Jackson in the same offseason, and what happens to each is dependent on what happens to the other. If another team signs Jackson, the Patriots will have more reason to pay Gilmore, and more urgency to do so. However, if they can work out a long-term deal with the 25-year-old Jackson, it could make Gilmore more expendable.
With the RFA deadline quickly approaching, it seems like we could potentially get an answer to the cornerback conundrum soon. However, there’s nothing that prevents this situation from lasting through the summer and into training camp. Even if it does take that long, Gilmore seems to be unbothered by the wait.
“You’ve got to leave it in their hands,” he told Volin. “Of course, I know what type of player I am, what type of person I am. I let everything lay on its own.”
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.