New England Patriots All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore may be holding out of team activities due to his contract situation, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone for good.
Even the most delusional of fans would agree that a $7 million salary for the veteran in 2021 is a slap in the face. Gilmore knows something needs to be done. Bill Belichick likely does too.
Gilmore’s decision to put his foot down was merely a formality in the negotiation process.
This is him telling the team that he wants this fixed and he’s not going to risk his health any further coming off a season-ending injury until his contract is amended.
Fans, pundits and analysts have endlessly explored different trade scenarios (we obviously did too!), but the latest update in the saga suggests Gilmore prefers to remain in New England.
That would mean life is as it should be.
Here’s the latest from ESPN Patriots insider Mike Reiss:
"“Cornerback Stephon Gilmore didn’t report to mandatory minicamp, and while some holdouts can become acrimonious, my sense on Gilmore’s mindset is different. He seems to enjoy being a Patriot, is open to sticking around, and this was his least-expensive-but-most-decisive way of sparking more productive contract talks with the team, so he can feel better about being part of New England’s present and future.”"
Think the Patriots might feel the same way? Belichick went on a spending spree this offseason for the first time in forever (?), which suggests he’s looking to avenge an embarrassing 2020 that saw his team miss the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and record a losing record for the first time in nearly 20 years.
If getting back to the postseason and showing up the Buffalo Bills is a priority, then Gilmore needs to stay, which is the easiest solution. They can get by without him but then will need to jump through hoops to find a replacement.
The cap space is there. The fit is there. The desire to remain with the team is reportedly there. And the Patriots need to maintain continuity in the secondary after losing Patrick Chung to retirement and Jason McCourty to the division-rival Dolphins. There are younger guys on this roster that will greatly benefit from Gilmore’s presence and football intelligence.
Additionally, there’s been nothing to suggest Gilmore’s play has taken a nosedive. Nobody should truly worry about the money until that happens. Didn’t the Patriots learn last year how tough it is to cope after losing so many integral figures? Let’s not live through a fraction of that again, please.