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FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 18: Stephon Gilmore #24 is called for a penalty as he defends Tim Patrick #81 of the Denver Broncos during the second half of a game at Gillette Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

It’s hard to truly preview the Patriots’ cornerback group for the 2021 season right now. As things currently stand the unit’s best player – and arguably the best player on the entire team – is engaged in a contract holdout.

The state of Patriots’ cornerbacks, and the team itself, changes drastically if Stephon Gilmore is removed from the equation. Over the past few seasons, the Patriots have had one of the best overall secondaries in football. And while that top end talent is still on the roster (assuming Gilmore stays), the depth has started to thin.

Assuming Gilmore returns, he and Jackson would be one of if not the best outside cornerback duo in the league. In past years, they were spelled by veteran Jason McCourty, who rotated in keeping both players fresh, and was a quality backup in the case of injuries. Last season, McCourty played 65 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. 

McCourty signed with Miami during free agency, and the Patriots never made a true corresponding move to replace him. That could leave them looking for a veteran outside corner as the season approaches. Dre Kirkpatrick, who would be an ideal fit for the role, had a free agent meeting with the team back in May but did not sign.

Patriots 2021 Positional Previews: Quarterback | Tight End | Offensive Line


MORE: Quarterback preview

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.