New England Patriots

CINCINNATI, OHIO - DECEMBER 15: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots leaves the field after the Patriots defeated the Bengals 34-13 in the game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)

Stephon Gilmore wants a new contract, and there’s still a chance it comes with the Patriots. But the price? It sounds as high as ever.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has emerged at the forefront of the reporting on the Gilmore situation in New England in recent weeks. He has spoken to multiple sources around the National Football League who believe that Gilmore and the Patriots will reconvene before the start of training camp in July in hopes of reaching an agreement.

“Sources I’ve talked to around the league suspect that Gilmore and the Patriots will get together, have discussions closer to training camp, and potentially hammer out a deal, see where things go,” Fowler said on “SportsCenter” Thursday. “Because Gilmore is not thrilled to be playing on $7 million this year. He needs a new deal in the worst way.”

Fowler added that “there hasn’t been much trade traction league-wide” on Gilmore, but mainly because of holdups in New England, namely that the Patriots didn’t add at cornerback in the offseason (Jalen Mills has played more safety in recent years). So it sure sounds like the Patriots still prefer to retain their star corner.

But Gilmore doesn’t seem willing to relent on his price tag.

Gilmore himself has offered a fresh public comment, speaking to veteran reporter Josina Anderson. He reportedly said: “I just want what I’m worth, however that plays out. Every player should be paid what they’re worth. That’s just how it is.”

But the question is, and always has been: What does Gilmore believe he’s worth?

One contract comp that has been bandied about on Gilmore, which Fowler also referenced on “SportsCenter,” is that of Darius Slay with the Eagles. He signed a three-year deal for up to $50.05 million, which included $30.05 million guaranteed (via Spotrac). Slay’s average earnings of $16.6 million ranks fourth in the NFL at the cornerback position.

It would be a fair concession for Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time First Team All-Pro, to settle for the fourth- or fifth-highest AAV at his position. It’s unclear whether he’s holding a hard line closer to the top of the market, where Jalen Ramsey holds a $20 million average. At the same time, the Patriots don’t necessarily want to pay Gilmore based on past performance, if they don’t view him as a top-5 CB in the league going forward.

No matter how it turns out, this is shaping up to be one of Bill Belichick’s toughest negotiations at the helm of the Patriots. And considering the team’s rebuilding offense and dependency on Gilmore to anchor the secondary, this may be a situation where he simply needs to pay.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.