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FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots looks on during the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Stephon Gilmore’s holdout has officially begun. The 30-year-old corner wasn’t present for the Patriots’ first mandatory minicamp practice on Monday, with Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reporting his absence is related to a “contract dispute.” On Tuesday morning, Bill Belichick told reporters he doesn’t expect Gilmore to be in attendance for the remainder of the week.

As things currently stand, Gilmore is set to earn $7.5 million this season – making him the 26th highest paid cornerback in football. That number is low because the Patriots moved money up before last season, to prevent a holdout then. Gilmore is also on the last year of his deal, and just a season removed from winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is looking to land one last big pay day in the NFL.

Gilmore is a tremendous talent, and having him on the field changes the complexion of the Patriots’ defense. But even if the Patriots did feel it was time to move on, they don’t have many options to replace him. The team is already thin at the outside cornerback position following the departure of Jason McCourty in free agency. They simply can’t afford to not have the value Gilmore brings to the team.

Further complicating things is the lack of context for what a new potential deal for Gilmore would look like. It’s not uncommon for teams and players to work on new contracts based on similar situations elsewhere in the league. However, there’s really no comp right now for Gilmore, who turns 31 in September. There were only 10 cornerbacks in the NFL last year over the age of 30, and none are playing at the level Gilmore has for the past two years. 

While there’s no official timeline for a holdout, it’s in the Patriots’ best interest to get this situation resolves as quickly as possible. Getting Gilmore back in the building would allow the defense to work as a whole as training camp begins, and if there is no deal, it would be beneficial for the team to have more time to adjust and adapt.

Of course, that’s all easier said than done, and what ‘resolved’ means in this context isn’t exactly clear. The team has three paths of action moving forward – pay Gilmore, trade him, or allow him to hold out indefinitely. Here’s a quick overview of what each outcome would look like.

MORE: Patriots Minicamp Day 1 observations

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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.