After a months-long standoff, it’s crunch time for the Patriots with cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
The Pats have until 4 p.m. on Tuesday to submit their initial 53-man roster, and various moves can be made after that. But it’s also the deadline to remove players from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, where Gilmore resided throughout training camp and the preseason.
But interestingly enough, Gilmore’s holdout has really been more of a “hold-in,” as coaches have credited the two-time All-Pro with helping the cornerback room off the field, despite not actually practicing.
“I will say his participation in the building has been phenomenal,” said cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino in mid-August. “I joked last meeting about him being ‘Coach Steph.’ He’s been great working with the guys, being in the room, communicating, not being quiet. It’s very easy for guys when they’re injured to kind of be quiet and take a backseat. He hasn’t done that. Been great. I love having Steph in the room. So he’s been top-notch all the way through this.”
Obviously, the 2021 Patriots are much better off with Gilmore on the field, for a defense that appears poised to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks at a high level. But questions persist about their cornerback depth behind J.C. Jackson, which ostensibly led to the team’s acquisition of Shaun Wade from the Ravens.
No matter what the Patriots end up doing with Gilmore, it seems that the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year won’t be ready to play in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. And there’s really only one option for them to make that happen, which is to give him a pay raise or a contract extension.
“We have a lot of roster decisions to make, and some of those are intertwined, and some of the rules have changed from what they’d been in the past,” said head coach Bill Belichick on Monday, when asked about the Gilmore situation. “So, what we might’ve done in a different year at a different point in time may or may not be relevant now. We’ll just take a look at everything and continue to evaluate stuff day by day as we’ve done, as he’s done, and work to get better. We have several players in a similar situation, and we’ll get the most up-to-date information we can and try to make the best decision we can for our football team.”
Here are all the possible avenues for the Patriots with Gilmore ahead of Tuesday’s roster deadline…