The New England Patriots have been a football fan’s dream over the last few weeks of the offseason as far as generating content is concerned.
Though the Patriots will have a quarterback competition on their hands at training camp, the future of cornerback Stephon Gilmore has seemingly produced more drama.
Of course, Gilmore sat out of minicamp in search of a fresh contract extension — he’s currently projected to make just $7 million in the final year of his deal — and there’s been no evidence to suggest he’ll report to training camp in a few weeks without an agreement in place.
At this juncture, we have no idea what’s going to happen with Gilmore. What we do know, however, is that the Patriots better have a backup plan if negotiations fall through.
Why do we say that?
Well, get a load of these eye-opening stats. With Gilmore on the field last season, New England’s defense surrendered a lower completion percentage, lower yards per attempt to quarterbacks, a higher TD-INT ratio, and a lower passer rating.
The Patriots better have a contingency plan with Stephon Gilmore.
If those stats don’t prove the Patriots better do everything in their power to retain Gilmore, nothing does. While a lucrative long-term deal is likely out of the equation, a one- or two-year contract in the range of $14-17 million annually should appease both parties.
If that doesn’t work, perhaps another raise is possible. Whatever the case, the Patriots need a proper contingency plan in place if they’re forced to trade Gilmore. That, of course, begs the question of what that plan of action should be.
The easy solution would be to promote JC Jackson, who’s fresh off a career year in which he finished second in the NFL with nine interceptions, but it’s currently unclear how much trust the coaching staff has in him. For as much promise Jackson flashed last season, however, he did struggle (at times) filling in for Gilmore as the No. 1 cornerback.
Most fans will point to his lackluster showing against the Bills in Week 16, when he allowed Stefon Diggs to erupt for nine catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson obviously wasn’t responsible for all of those receptions, but he was tasked with shadowing Diggs, and the former undrafted corner covered himself in anything but glory in that game.
So, if we were to assume Jackson needs another campaign under his belt before he can be entrusted as a No. 1 CB, what’s left of New England’s options? Well, luckily for them, they could potentially turn around and sign Richard Sherman as Gilmore’s replacement.
That’s the most likely scenario here. If we’re being honest, as much as it would hurt seeing Gilmore leave on such ugly terms, adding Sherman would be a solid silver lining.
Even if Sherman isn’t who the Patriots have identified as a stopgap option, they must have something in the chamber in the event that Gilmore ends up requesting a trade should the two sides not come to an agreement on a new deal.