Remember before training camp when the New England Patriots were faced with countless distractions? Some of their rookies didn’t sign until the last minute, N’Keal Harry had just requested a trade, and Stephon Gilmore was injured and without a new deal.
Fast forward to the end of the second week, and the incoming draft class has embraced the moment, Harry looks like he’s ready to contribute and Gilmore, well, he’s still injured and still slated to make $7 million in the final year of his contract.
While Gilmore has made it clear he wants to stay with the Patriots, every day he doesn’t reach an agreement makes fans that much more nervous. Having said that, there’s actually a reason to be optimistic he’ll remain in Foxborough for at least one more season.
What makes us say that? Despite recovering from quad surgery and being in the middle of a contract dispute, Gilmore’s been heavily involved as a mentor at training camp. If this doesn’t send a clear message that he wants to stay with the Patriots, nothing will.
Stephon Gilmore coaching up his Patriots teammates speaks volumes.
Here’s what Patriots cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino had to say about Gilmore.
"“Love Steph, great guy. Right now, he’s ‘Coach Steph.’ He’s working the other part of his game. Working off the field, trying to get better, he’s rehabbing. He’s getting there. Taking it one day at a time, but in the meantime, he always helps the younger guys. He’s doing his part. He’s being a good teammate. He’s been great in the room.”“Steph, he leads in his own way, which is great. Don’t try and make anybody who they’re not. He talks, guys listen, which is great. Not going to ask him to do anything more than what he does.”"
That quote should be followed by a colossal sigh of relief from Patriots fans. After all, Gilmore coaching up his teammates amid his rehab and while he’s disgruntled with his contract proves he’s invested in this team. That should put the ball in New England’s court.
He could have made things very ugly if he wanted to leave New England, but that doesn’t appear to be the vibe he is giving off at all right now.
Either way, it looks like this saga (if you can even call it that) is drawing to a close. If Gilmore was actually considering demanding a trade or holding out into the regular season, he wouldn’t have arrived on time for training camp or be stepping up as a leader behind the scenes.
Let’s remember that Gilmore isn’t an outspoken character. The 31-year-old corner is part of the rare breed of players who lead by example and let their play do the talking. That, along with his current distractions, is what makes his eagerness to mentor his teammates so significant.
Remember when Gilmore didn’t report to mandatory minicamp as an apparent protest? That seems like ages ago.
Unless we, and dozens of Patriots media members, aren’t reading this situation correctly, it seems to be trending in the direction that Gilmore and New England will come to an agreement regarding his contract before the start of the regular season.