The New England Patriots have addressed several areas on their roster during the offseason. Bill Belichick has spent tons to shore up the offense and defense, but the secondary still has some questions.
The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore’s status is in limbo. He’s under contract for the upcoming season, but it’s pretty clear Gilmore wants a new deal. Per Spotrac, he’s only scheduled to make $7 million in 2021, which is well beneath his value.
Gilmore will be 31 shortly after the start of the season. While he played well enough to earn a Pro Bowl nod in 2020, injuries slowed him, and he didn’t perform on the same level he had when he was named the league’s best defensive player.
One of the Patriots’ biggest remaining conundrums this offseason is whether to trade Gilmore or re-sign him. Based on recent comments from the nine-year veteran, Gilmore is “very open” to signing an extension with the Patriots.
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Gilmore is Down to Return
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer recently spoke about the Patriots’ offseason moves and the loose ends they still need to tie up. He wrote this about Gilmore’s desire to continue with the Patriots:
Bottom line: If the Patriots think Gilmore has, say, three more good years left in him (and they know better than anyone else how the 30-year-old has taken care of his body) and they don’t want to pay promising young corner J.C. Jackson like a premier DB, you can certainly see where it’d make sense. I’m also told, for what it’s worth, that Gilmore would be very open to signing a new deal in New England.
The Patriots don’t have a lot of depth at corner, and that’s even if Gilmore returns.
Assuming the team and player can work things out, New England would start Gilmore and J.C. Jackson, with the nickel cornerback being Jonathon Jones or second-year player Myles Bryant likely getting some snaps. The Patriots also have the newly signed Jalen Mills, but he seems more like an extra, in-the-box safety rather than a pure cover corner.
Drafting Gilmore’s Replacement
If the Patriots decide to trade Gilmore, they would likely receive a second or third-round pick in return. That draft asset could help facilitate a trade-up for a quarterback, or the Patriots could look to find Gilmore’s replacement in the draft.
At No. 15, New England might have a chance to draft a player like Caleb Fairley, Jaycee Horn, or maybe even Alabama’s Patrick Surtain Jr. In any case; the Patriots seem to have a variety of options. Bringing Gilmore back to help solidify a defense that is suddenly a lot stronger and deeper than it was in 2020 might be the direction fans want to see the team take.
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