The Patriots often will take a former opponent that had extensive success against them and eventually add them to the roster. That philosophy has brought in players like Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, Chris Hogan, Brandon LaFell, Eric Rowe, and others to the Patriots organization. They don’t always work out as about half of them flame out by the end of their first year, but the ones that stick past then tend to turn into great role guys.
The Patriots’ biggest free agent signing was inking former Bills CB Stephon Gilmore to a 5/$65M contract with $31M guaranteed. The Patriots had faced Gilmore 8 times in 5 seasons, so the Patriots have a very good idea what they’re getting. In those 8 games, this was Gilmore’s stat line against the Patriots.
Teams so often make moves based on how a guy has played against them. This is Gilmore vs NE over his career: pic.twitter.com/6ZNXWUaoqv— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 30, 2017
The passer rating number is fairly average on its own, but the other numbers are very eye-popping. Gilmore limited Patriots WRs to under 6 targets a game while also getting his hands on an average of 1 pass a game. In those games, he’s allowed only 2 TD and limited Patriots WRs to an average stat line of 3 catches for 42 yards. Gilmore’s play is why the Patriots have lost two games, by scores of 16-0 and 17-9. In those 8 games, Brady’s passer rating fell below 90 in 4 of them out of 7 possible, although the Patriots record in those 7 games are 6-1.
Gilmore will be deployed as likely the top boundary CB in New England, taking on some of the taller WRs on the outside that gives Malcolm Butler fits. Butler takes on the smaller, speedier wideouts to form a very good 1-2 punch on the boundary. When the Patriots go with 3 CBs, they add another young and developing CB in Eric Rowe. Throw in another trio of young and talented CBs in Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones, and Justin Coleman and the Patriots have a nice, young CB group to work with in 2017.