CB Stephon Gilmore was the 9th biggest free agent name for ESPN’s Adam Schefter, but not from a talent perspective. Schefter wanted to get the biggest stories, which put QB Tony Romo as the 1st player on his list despite still being a member of the Dallas Cowboys. LB Dont’a Hightower was 7th on the list of 50 names.
We know this because MMQB followed Schefter on the first day of free agency in a must-read look at the world of sports reporting. We also get a look at how the Patriots deal with Gilmore was a surprise to even Schefter on the first day of free agency.
At 8 am, Schefter was at ESPN HQ for television and radio appearances, when he received a call from a source who “mentions that a deal will be coming soon for the Bills’ Stephon Gilmore.
“Really?,” Schefter responds, “… What time do we have liftoff? … And it’s not going to get out? Because these things get out, man, I’m just telling you. … Okay, okay, I trust you. … I’ve got you. Loud and clear. I’m not looking. I’m not calling. I’m waiting. I’m just waiting. So when should I check back in with you? … Okay, no problem. Call me back in an hour.”
Schefter sits on this story until he gets a call at 8:50 am:
“It’s the source on the Stephon Gilmore story, the one he’s been waiting to hear from. It hasn’t been an hour. Something is up. Schefter excuses himself and rushes to the corner of the studio as Greenberg cheers him on, on air. ‘So what can I say?’ Schefter ask, and starts pacing. ‘Oh my God, wow.’
“Schefter bolts out of the studio and down the hallway, calling a second source to confirm the news he’s just heard. He has one phone pinned to his ear while he types on a second phone.
“‘Is it a one-year deal? No? Multiyear. How long is the deal—I don’t care about that right now. … I’m just going to say: ‘Bills free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore ...’ … I’m typing as we go. … ‘expects to sign with … New England … barring any final snags … per sources.’ Okay? … I just posted. There we go. … Thank you very much. Okay, bye.’
“Schefter hangs up and lets out a yell — ‘How’s that for a bomb? Wooo!’ — and then he practically skips down the hall to his next TV hit, on SportsCenter.”
At 8:56 am, this message from Schefter emerges into the Twittersphere:
Bills free agent CB Stephon Gilmore expects to sign with New England barring any final snags, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2017
Schefter then gets the contract details for Gilmore at 12:50 pm, but doesn’t announce them until the official start of free agency at 4:02 pm:
Patriots are giving former Bills CB Stephon Gilmore a five-year, $65 million deal that includes $40 million guaranteed, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2017
And this was just the start of the Patriots wild free agency.