Vacillating between trade and extension candidacies, Stephon Gilmore is now a holdout. The All-Pro cornerback did not show for the start of Patriots minicamp, restoring his status as a front-burner offseason item.
As could be expected after Gilmore began a holdout, he and the Patriots do not appear to be close on a new deal. Progress toward a Gilmore extension has proven elusive this offseason, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Gilmore is entering the final season of a five-year, $65MM deal, but because the Pats moved $5MM of his 2021 salary to a 2020 pay bump, he is due just $7MM in base pay this year. The Pats planned to discuss his contract months ago, but those talks have not produced a solution.
Gilmore’s camp may have identified workable terms, with Howe adding that Darius Slay‘s three-year, $50MM Eagles deal has come up as a comparable contract. The Eagles gave Slay that extension upon trading for him last year. While the per-year average falls below the new cornerback ceiling — raised to $20MM by Jalen Ramsey, with Tre’Davious White and Marlon Humphrey also driving a stagnant market north of $17MM per year — Gilmore is much older than the recently paid group of corners who changed the market.
Slay’s third NFL contract provides a closer comp to Gilmore’s current situation. The former Defensive Player of the Year is going into his age-31 season. Slay, whose resume is less decorated, was 29 when he signed his third NFL contract. The Eagles possessed a greater need at the position when they acquired and extended Slay, while the Patriots have been stingier with big-ticket contracts under Bill Belichick.
The Patriots have continually replaced impact corners without sacrificing much in the way of coverage capabilities, letting Darrelle Revis walk after his age-29 season and opting against paying Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler big cash as free agents. Of course, New England has altered its usual financial blueprint this year by loading up on veteran talent in free agency. Gilmore’s presence would help the Pats’ quest to return to the playoffs considerably. He is, however, coming off an injury-shortened season. Gilmore suffered a partially torn quad in December.
New England has discussed Gilmore in trades on a few occasions over the past year and change. The Pats wanted a first-round pick for him at the 2020 deadline but did not come especially close to a trade. The prospect of a high-level Gilmore extension likely played into those trade talks. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots can bring the All-Pro cover man back into the fold with another one-season pay raise or if Gilmore is willing to push harder for an extension. Taking the latter route will be difficult, with the 2020 CBA making training camp holdouts tougher to wage.
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