After initially downplaying Gilmore’s absence, on Tuesday during a meeting with the media, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addressed the elephant in the room. When asked about Gilmore’s absence on Monday and Tuesday, Belichick said:
“I don’t expect him to be here, and we’ll just focus on the guys that are here.”
That doesn’t sound promising. Gilmore is believed to be holding out for a better contract. He’s scheduled to be paid $7 million in 2021, which is well below the rate for a player of his stature.
The 30-year-old former Defensive Player of the Year could be headed for a new deal, a trade, or a prolonged absence that will eventually result in weekly fines.
Expect this to be an ongoing saga until a resolution of Gilmore’s contract situation is found.
Who Steps Up if Gilmore isn’t Around?
If Gilmore doesn’t report, J.C. Jackson would be asked to step into his role as the No. 1 cornerback on the team. Belichick was asked about this scenario, which we saw a bit of in 2020 after Gilmore suffered two injuries.
Every year is a new year for all of us, so it doesn’t really matter what did or didn’t happen last year. We’re all working on building a good foundation this year and trying to have our best performance in the 2021 season. I know that J.C. [Jackson], that’s his goal and that’s all of our goals, so we’ll see how it goes.
Jackson has his own contract situation, as he is set to be a free agent after 2021. Like Gilmore, his name has been included in trade scuttlebutt over the past few months. for now he is present and participating.
Gilmore’s Teammates Seem to Miss and Support Him
In case you’re wondering whether Gilmore’s teammates consider him an integral piece of their defense, look no further than the comments made by veteran free safety Devin McCourty. During his time speaking with the media, McCourty said:
The Quiet Assassin is doing what he needs to do to get back out there and playing good football. Gilly’s still under contract, so when he comes back in, he does what he does. I’ve been talking to him. He’s still a part of this team.
The defense has a chance to be really good in 2021. On all three levels, Belichick has compiled a group of guys on the defensive line that figures to rush the passer more effectively as well as being more stout against the run. The linebackers look to be an extension of that same concept.
While not as deep as the defensive line and linebackers, the Patriots secondary has the pieces to be strong too. However, if you deduct Gilmore from the picture, the confidence in New England’s last line of defense doesn’t look as sturdy–at least not on paper.
Expect there to be a resolution to this entire thing before training camp begins. Belichick knows the importance of the 2021 campaign, and he doesn’t figure to allow a distraction to throw things off track. He’ll get Gilmore back in the fold with a new deal, or he’ll find a way to move him.
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