As Gilmore’s home stay extends further and further, the braintrust in the Pats front office — as well as fans watching from afar — should pay close attention to what’s going on in Miami between team management and standout CB Xavien Howard.
Howard, just 27 years old, has skipped mandatory minicamp while attempting to renegotiate a deal he signed in May 2019 which makes him, as things stand, the sixth-highest-paid corner in the game at $15.1 million annually.
In other words, over $8 million ahead of Gilmore’s (who is 30 years old) clearly middling salary that fits in perfectly with Bill Belichick’s mantra of paying less for more talent…until, of course, the infrastructure isn’t so great anymore and players become dissatisfied.
Gilmore saw much of his five-year, $65 million contract converted to a signing bonus, leaving him with just $7 million to come in his final season with the Patriots.
As we all suspected, he either wants more or wants out — for a trade package that could be lowered in value if Howard also hits the market at the same time.
Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore’s trade value could be altered by Xavien Howard.
"“It’s pretty clear this is a contract situation, which we’ve talked about internally,” Flores said. “X is a little bit of a unique situation. He was extended and now we’re talking about a potential renegotiation after one year. Those turn into longer conversations. We understand that. We’ve obviously had a lot of talks and conversations about that and we’ll continue to have those and keep them internal, but it’s a very unique conversation.”"
Gilmore’s dissatisfaction makes far more sense than Howard’s, but if both holdouts crystallize into formal trade requests, the Pats could be left holding the bag. Both players want raises, but it’s easier to bet on Howard’s prime than Gilmore’s aging curve.
Gilmore could be seen as a “discount alternative” to Howard, sure — a laughable thing to say about a Defensive Player of the Year, but we digress — but that isn’t how the Patriots would like him to be viewed heading into negotiations. They’d prefer he clearly stand out as the best defensive back available to teams in desperate need of patching things up as the season approaches.
Arizona, fittingly, has emerged as a rumored destination for both players, further complicating things for the Patriots. Gilmore reshared DeAndre Hopkins’ cryptic Instagram insinuation about a trade, and Howard has found himself distributed to the desert recently, too, in plenty of mocks and speculation.
The Patriots’ best hope is that Howard settles in Miami soon, raising the bar for Gilmore’s salary upgrade rather than removing a trade destination. If he inches the barrier too high for entry, Belichick will likely move on, especially if no team’s thirst has been quenched by Howard’s arrival.