Patriots: Is Stephon Gilmore’s future contingent on JC Jackson’s preseason?


The New England Patriots enjoyed a legitimately groundbreaking offseason, as they went on their largest free agent spending spree in franchise history.

When you couple that with the Pats’ seemingly dominant showing in the draft, we should be focusing all our attention on the excitement surrounding the team.

However, that’s currently impossible amid Stephon Gilmore’s contract holdout, as the star cornerback was a no show for mandatory minicamp, and all signs point to him doing the same with training camp in a few weeks as he seeks a new deal.

What makes us say that? Well, CBS Sports recently listed the 10 highest-paid CBs in a since-deleted tweet.

Gilmore, as we know, isn’t one of them and he wasted no time reminding his followers (and the Patriots) with a snarky response.

It remains to be seen what’ll happen with Gilmore, but the latest buzz suggests his future may hinge on how JC Jackson performs during training camp.

Stephon Gilmore’s future with the Patriots could hinge on JC Jackson.

Here’s what NFL Network insider Mike Giardi had to say when WEEI asked him to speculate a percentage that Gilmore is playing for the Patriots this year.

"“So I’m thinking he’s not showing up for the beginning of training camp,” Giardi said. “They’re going to be fine with it, because they’re going to let it play out, see if JC [Jackson] can handle it. They’re going to find out that JC can’t handle it. So I’m going to go, let’s say, 73 percent he is starting Week 1.”"

We certainly weren’t expecting Giardi to dismiss Jackson being capable of handling No. 1 cornerback duties, but we’ll save that discussion for another day. What matters is that these comments make it seem like the Pats would move off Gilmore if Jackson impresses.

We’re not sure what tests Jackson would have to pass — how much could the Patriots possibly learn about his ability to stymie top-tier receivers during camp? — but this scoop makes for an interesting next few months leading up to the start of the season.

If Jackson doesn’t perform up to snuff and New England isn’t comfortable with promoting him to the No. 1 spot, are we to assume they cave and pay Gilmore his dues … which is probably somewhere along the lines of $14 to $19 million annually?

Who knows? And that’s what makes this such a compelling storyline.

Just when you thought the Patriots were finally ready to put all the contract drama behind them, they become embroiled in what’s shaping up to be a lengthy standoff — one with potentially major consequences — with one of their cornerstone pieces.

Of course, the latest update indicates there’ll be one more round of discussions before the preseason begins in earnest. Whether it ends with a handshake or more anger could depend on how the team views Jackson.