Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore Returns To Practice

The Patriots are set to have both Cam Newton and their top defender back Sunday when they host the Broncos. Stephon Gilmore was back at Pats practice Thursday, having returned from his stay on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list.

Newton and Gilmore each tested positive for the coronavirus, and these results led to the NFL postponing Week 5’s Denver-New England game to Week 6. Gilmore learned he tested positive Oct. 7. Two more Patriot players tested positive following the stars’ results. But both standouts are on track to return. In Gilmore’s case, he will be eligible to come back after not missing a game. Newton, who also returned to practice Thursday, missed the Pats’ Week 4 contest in Kansas City.

Gilmore helped the shorthanded Patriots stay close to the Chiefs for a while in their Week 4 loss. Last season, the former first-round pick intercepted six passes and became the first cornerback to win the defensive player of the year award in 10 years. The 30-year-old defender remains the anchor of New England’s top-flight secondary and received a pay bump earlier this year.

The Pats did not practice Wednesday but returned to their facility Thursday. After their game against the Broncos was rescheduled three times, it is currently slated to start at noon CT Sunday.

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Patriots’ Stephon Gilmore Tests Positive For COVID-19

Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore has tested positive for COVID-19, as NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. With that, the Patriots have called off Wednesday’s practice.

Gilmore’s positive tests comes on the heels of quarterback Cam Newton‘s diagnosis. In addition, practice squad defensive lineman Bill Murray has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which means that he has either come in close contact with someone that has the coronavirus or has it himself.

The Chiefs — who played the Patriots on Monday night — had zero positive tests in Wednesday’s round. However, Gilmore was in close contact with numerous Chiefs players during the game, including star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Gilmore was also on one of the Patriots’ two team planes, meaning that many more players and personnel members were potentially exposed.

Gilmore, 30, was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. He’ll be ineligible to play on Sunday against the Broncos, per league protocol, and his diagnosis will likely have a ripple effect on the schedule. More importantly, the hope is that the virus has not spread and that Gilmore remains in good condition.

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Patriots Considered Trading Stephon Gilmore

The Patriots and Stephon Gilmore recently agreed to a sizable pay raise for 2020, but the club considered trading the star cornerback before this year’s draft and during training camp, as Albert Breer of SI.com reports (via Twitter). It’s unclear who the interested teams were and what the compensation might have been, but trading Gilmore obviously would have had a significant detrimental impact on New England’s 2020 prospects.

Breer suggests that the trade discussions may have been financially motivated, as he says the Patriots’ high number of opt-outs and the corresponding salary cap room those opt-outs created “changed the equation.” New England is carrying a significant amount of dead money on its books this season, but the club still has the second-most cap room in the league right now, at roughly $31.5MM. The opt-outs certainly help that number, but the opt-outs were finalized in early August. So if trade discussions were indeed happening during training camp, perhaps there were other factors at play (like the desire to trade Gilmore while his value is at its peak).

In any event, the extra cap space did make it a little easier for the team to give Gilmore the above-referenced pay bump and bring his 2020 salary more in line with the top of the CB market. He still has two years left on the five-year contract he signed prior to the 2017 season, and the two sides could explore extension talks following the 2020 campaign.

New England certainly would have had plenty of suitors for Gilmore, who will turn 30 this week and who pulled down Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2019. The Pats still have enough juice to be competitive this season, but some believe that the team could be in for a difficult rebuild in the post-Tom Brady era, so extra draft capital would have helped that cause.

On the other hand, a rejuvenated Cam Newton could help New England return to the playoffs, and with Bill Belichick at the helm, a rebuild for the Pats might look different than it would for other teams.

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Pay Raise For Patriots’ Stephon Gilmore

Today’s a good day for Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots have given the cornerback a $5MM pay raise for 2020, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). 

Gilmore, the reigning defensive player of the year, has two years to go his current deal. In 2020, he’s now slated to earn $15.5MM, with an additional $2MM bonus if he repeats as the NFL’s DPOY. For now, his 2021 remains unchanged – he’s scheduled to make $11.5MM in base pay, plus $8MM+ in bonuses.

Gilmore skipped a handful of practices over the summer, leading some to speculate about a potential holdout. Later, we learned that his absence was not contract-related. Gilmore presumably wants a new deal, but he’s not pressing the Patriots to make it happen with two years left on his current pact.

After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Bills, Gilmore joined the Patriots on a five-year, $65MM deal ($31MM guaranteed) prior to the 2017 season. The former first-rounder had an up-and-down campaign during his first season in New England, but he’s delivered some incredible performances ever since.

At the time of signing, Gilmore’s deal made him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. Since then, the market has shifted dramatically. Before the pay bump, Gilmore’s average annual salary ranked him No. 11 among CBs, far behind new positional leader Jalen Ramsey.

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AFC East Notes: Gilmore, Bell, Callaway

Patriots star CB Stephon Gilmore is set to earn $10.5MM this year, which is quite a bargain when considering that the top of the CB market now features average annual values in the $17MM range. But it does not appear that Gilmore is pushing for a new deal at this time, and though he missed five practices in a row last month, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the absence was not contract-related.

Now for a few more AFC East items:

  • For months, Jarrett Stidham looked like he would be the Patriots‘ starting QB and would serve as the heir apparent to Tom Brady. But now, Reiss says Stidham might actually be the third-stringer behind Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer, and his inability to generate any momentum in training camp has cast his long-term future in doubt.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says that Jermaine Eluemunor has definitively seized the Patriots’ RT job.
  • Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, Jets RB Le’Veon Bell says he has no issues with head coach Adam Gase. In his first comments since his publicly questioning Gase’s decision to pull him out of a recent scrimmage, Bell said, “I don’t understand why everybody is trying to put me and Gase against each other. We’re not against each other. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to believe, but we actually like each other” (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). Though Bell may not make it past this year’s trading deadline with Gang Green, it is in his and Gase’s best interests to limit the drama and focus on getting Bell back to his old form.
  • Former Browns receiver Antonio Callaway recently tried out for the Dolphins, as Albert Breer of SI.com notes (via Twitter). Callaway, a 2018 fourth-round pick, has plenty of promise but has had a very rocky start to his pro career, including two separate suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He hooked on with the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers in January but suffered a leg injury shortly after signing, and this is the first time we have heard his name in NFL circles since then.
  • The Dolphins just waived QB Josh Rosen, and as Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets, the team could now reunite with Jake Rudock, who spent last season on the Miami practice squad.

Patriots Rumors: Brady, Edelman, Gilmore

We heard earlier this week that the Patriots made “no tangible effort” to retain Tom Brady, which drove Brady to leave Foxborough. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com paints a slightly different picture with respect to Brady’s departure, saying that Brady himself believed he had squeezed everything he could out of his relationship with head coach Bill Belichick (who may have felt similarly). Had Belichick approached Brady and suggested that the two sides do what they could to make sure the six-time Super Bowl champ finished his career with the Pats, Brady may have been receptive, but that is not Belichick’s style, and Brady never really expected that to happen.

The Patriots’ usual impersonal approach to their business, which has served them quite well over the past two decades, also played a role. The Pats generally withhold offers from players they are interested in retaining but who are allowed to test the market. That way, they avoid bidding against themselves and insulting the player, but by keeping an open dialogue, they are able to pounce if the price is right. In Brady’s case, no negotiations took place since August, and player and team may have been waiting for each other to make the first move.

Now for more from Foxborough:

  • So where do the Patriots go from here? Although New England is among the league leaders in dead cap charges for 2020 ($23MM), Reiss believes the club is in line for a reboot, not a rebuild. The Pats have a much rosier financial outlook in 2021, when they are projected to have roughly $100MM of cap space, so Reiss suggests they will look to get younger and clean up their cap situation this year so they can take full advantage of their flexibility next season.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe is more pessimistic about the Pats’ immediate prospects (though he does say that the salary cap ramifications stemming from a theoretical Brady re-up made it more logical for the team to part ways). He believes the club is in for a difficult rebuild, and while there do not appear to be any concrete trade rumblings, he suggests that New England could look into dealing WR Julian Edelman and CB Stephon Gilmore.
  • Indeed, Gilmore — the reigning Defensive Player of the Year — could be seeking a raise after seeing less accomplished CBs get PAID this offseason, and dealing him would certainly yield a nice return of draft capital. It depends, presumably, on whether the Patriots feel they can retool on the fly or need to tear down.
  • Despite being connected to Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton in offseason rumors, the Patriots have not discussed Dalton, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (via Twitter). We heard several days ago that New England would instead seek a cheaper veteran, and Howe suggests former Patriot Brian Hoyer could be in play (Twitter link). Hoyer, who was released by the Colts yesterday, is reportedly open to a reunion with the Pats.

Patriots Restructure Stephon Gilmore’s Contract

New England is freeing up some cap space. The Patriots are restructuring the contract of cornerback Stephon Gilmore, a source told Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

According to Yates, the Patriots converted $8.5MM of the salary left on Gilmore’s contract into a signing bonus. The move will free up $5.67MM in cap space this year, giving the Pats some extra flexibility in free agency while giving Gilmore more money up front. Gilmore has one of the largest contracts on the team, and this isn’t the first time they’ve re-worked his deal.

The Patriots restructured his contract in October of last year to free up some immediate cap space. Gilmore has three seasons left on the five-year, $65 million pact he signed back in March of 2017. Gilmore’s Patriots tenure got off to a rocky start, but he’s since adapted quite well and has become one of the best players on the team.

He’s come up huge in the playoffs, having the game-sealing pass deflection in the AFC Championship Game two seasons ago as well as the crucial fourth quarter interception of Jared Goff in the most recent Super Bowl.

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Extra Points: Redskins, Cook, Vikings, Patriots, Gillmore

Alex Smith‘s done for the season, and as he continues to battle an infection cause by his devastating leg injury, it’s no guarantee he’s back in 2019. As such, the Redskins could be in the market for a new starting quarterback next year, and will need to make some tough decisions soon. With the latest developments on Smith’s health, his “return in 2019 does not seem like a realistic option” according to JP Finlay of NBC Washington, who took a look at some options for Washington.

Finlay thinks the Redskins will consider the likes of Tyrod Taylor, Teddy Bridgewater, and Nick Foles, but that their best path is ultimately through the draft. He notes that the team doesn’t have a ton of cap flexibility, and with the limited number of free agent quarterbacks available, will likely get priced out. That being said, the team has already won six games and won’t have a top pick in the 2019 draft, so they might miss out on the top couple of draft prospects as well.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Dalvin Cook had his best game as a runner this season last week against the Patriots, but the Vikings only gave him one carry in the fourth quarter. The lack of late game opportunities for Cook cause “a little frustration” within the organization, a Minnesota team source told Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said he “absolutely” plans to give Cook more carries moving forward, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll be much of an issue.
  • Stephon Gilmore was a late add to the injury report for the Patriots, seemingly indicating he suffered an injury in practice and sparking worries about his status for tomorrow’s game. But despite the brief scare, Gillmore did in fact travel with the team to Miami for the game against the Dolphins, a source told Jeff Howe of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Patriots have had a really tough time in Miami in recent years, so it would’ve been a huge blow to be without their top corner. Gilmore has been much better in his second season in New England, earning Pro Football Focus’ second highest grade among all cornerbacks.
  • In case you missed it, Richard Sherman is open to making a move to safety at some point in the future as his career reaches a new phase.

Patriots Rework Stephon Gilmore’s Contract

The Patriots have opened up some much-needed cap space prior to the NFL’s trade deadline. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that the team restructured cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s contract, opening up $3.7MM of cap space in 2018.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss has some more info on the reworked contract (via Twitter), noting that $4.95MM of Gilmore’s base salary was turned into a fully guaranteed roster bonus, which is prorated over four years. Gilmore is still due his full $9MM for 2018, and the move will add an extra $1.2375MM to the cornerback’s cap numbers between 2019 and 2021 (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe on Twitter).

The move will provide the Patriots with a bit more flexibility as they approach the October 30th trade deadline. While the organization was previously rolling with a bit more than $1.6MM in cap space, today’s move increases that number to around $5.3MM in space. This will allow the front office to fill a number of holes, with Volin pointing to needs at running back, linebacker, and defensive end.

After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Bills, Gilmore joined the Patriots on a five-year, $65MM deal ($31MM guaranteed) prior to the 2017 season. The former first-rounder had an up-and-down campaign during his first season in New England, finishing with 50 tackles, nine passes defended, and two interceptions in 13 games. In six games this season, the 28-year-old has compiled 22 tackles, eight passes defended, one interception, and one forced fumble.

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AFC Notes: Chargers, Cutler, Thomas

The LA Chargers experiment has come under fire from some for their small stadium, high prices and noticeable attendance from the road fanbases over the first six weeks of the NFL season. However, a Chargers team representative reportedly defended the move during last week’s owners meetings, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora points out that the team does have a few years to get things right before they move into the new Inglewood stadium that will be shared with their Hollywood rival Rams. Although, there’s still concern about the lack of a Plan B if things continue to sputter for the newly relocated franchise. In addition to facing the challenge of capturing attention of the fanbase from the now 5-2 Rams, the Chargers are set in a smaller stadium and less certainty off the gridiron as well, even though it would seem that the team’s ownership group is not backing down from the problems that have stemmed from their controversial move from San Diego.

  • Jay Cutler will soon undergo X-Rays on his ribs due to an injury he suffered in today’s game vs. the Jets, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter Link). Rapoport adds that team officials fear he has suffered cracked ribs, but will “check it all”. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com adds that he is now hearing Cutler may be out for the next 2-3 weeks. The injury adds to what has been a pedestrian season for the once retired 34 year-old. Through six games, he’s accumulated a QBR in the 30s, throwing almost as many picks as touchdowns (7 TD-5 INT). For the time being, Miami will turn to backup Matt Moore who led the team to a second half comeback in today’s win over New York.
  • In another injury news, All-Pro Browns tackle Joe Thomas had his consecutive snaps streak broken after exiting with an apparent left arm injury. The injury represents another blow to what has been another gloomy season in Cleveland. The veteran lineman sent out a personal tweet after today’s game confirming that he will undergo an MRI tomorrow. Thomas has been a staple on the Browns offensive line since he was drafted by the team third overall in 2006. He played an incredible 10,363 offensive snaps until he exited today, which truly shows that grit and toughness of arguably best offensive lineman in the league for the past decade.
  • Patriots highly-paid cornerback Stephon Gilmore sat out last week after suffering a concussion when he collided with the Bucs Mike Evans in Week 5. However, even with Gilmore and fellow corner Eric Rowe sidelined, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com opines that the team is more likely to promote a player for the practice squad than sign a veteran free agent like Leon Hall. Without Gilmore, the Pats will be relying Malcolm Butler, Johnson Bademosi and Jonathan Jones in the short-term.
  • Jags rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook is eligible to come off the IR after week 8 and he could be a welcomed deep ball threat for an offense that lost Allen Robinson early in the season, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. DiRocco cautioned that the team’s 2017 fourth round pick hasn’t played an NFL snap, but could operate as the Jags third wideout behind Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns because of his speed and big play ability. Jacksonville had struggled passing the ball through the first six weeks of the season, but found their rhythm today, albeit against a struggling Colts defense.

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