The New England Patriots are in a very precarious situation, as they are simultaneously trying to build one of the most balanced rosters in the league in an attempt to get back to the playoffs while also playing hardball in contract negotiations with cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore, who was named Defensive Player of the Year two seasons ago, has frequently come up in trade talks, as a potential contract extension for the former All-Pro doesn’t seem to be something that Bill Belichick has in his future plans.
Gilmore is making just $7 million this season, which is well below market value for someone of his caliber.
Despite the fact he has been playing at well below market value, Gilmore is willing to come back to the Patriots.
Albert Breer reported in Monday Morning Quarterback that Gilmore “would be very open” to potentially signing a contract extension in New England.
Do the Patriots reciprocate that interest?
Breer claimed that “you can certainly see where it’d make sense” to keep Gilmore given the lack of attrition on his body and the reluctance to pay JC Jackson to cornerback money, and while we understand the impulse, it’s unclear whether there’s traction here.
Is a Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore extension coming?
Gilmore, who started his career as a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, was named a Pro Bowler in each of the last three seasons in New England, tallying nine interceptions and defending 43 passes in that span. Any team that gets him is getting a legit game-changer.
One of the reasons that a trade might come soon is the potential to replace him in the cornerback-rich 2021 Draft, as a player like fellow Gamecock Jaycee Horn seems like almost a perfect fit.
Even with that, Gilmore is in a tier occupied by very few others in the NFL, and Belichick has always placed a strong emphasis on cornerback play. Whenever Belichick pays up for someone, you can tell that he has supreme confidence in their ability to anchor the defense, and it will be almost impossible to find someone that has the same amount of man coverage quality.
Gilmore, should he choose to stay, might be a huge chunk of the New England payroll, but he is one of the truly rare cornerbacks in this league, and he will help whatever team he plays for compete for a championship. While the temptation to trade him for picks is valid, Belichick keeping his No. 1 cornerback around for the long haul seems like a much better option.