The New England Patriots are expected to sign former Buffalo Bills CB Stephon Gilmore and move on from CB Logan Ryan, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Bills free agent CB Stephon Gilmore expects to sign with New England barring any final snags, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2017
The #Patriots are closing in on signing free agent CB Stephon Gilmore, source said. Means they will say bye to Logan Ryan.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2017
Gilmore has been looking for top five cornerback money, which makes the Patriots a huge surprise landing spot. The Patriots also have to pay CB Malcolm Butler, so perhaps New England is looking to field the most expensive secondary in the league moving forward.
The 26-year-old former 10th overall selection of the 2012 draft stands at 6’1, 190 pounds, runs a 4.40s 40 yard dash and a 6.61s three cone time. He can cover on the outside and help out against tight ends, where he’s had success against Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski in the past. The Bills often asked him to shadow opposing #1 receivers.
It should be noted that the Bills liked Gilmore a lot, but new head coach Sean McDermott runs a lot of zone coverage, while Gilmore thrives in man coverage.
Gilmore should join Butler, CB Eric Rowe, and CB Cyrus Jones to form the team’s cornerback depth chart, while CB Jonathan Jones and CB Justin Coleman compete for the final roster spot.
Edit: Gilmore is going to make A LOT of money, per Rapoport:
The expected price tag for free agent CB Stephon Gilmore for the #Patriots is slated to eclipse $14M per year, I’m told. Hefty but worth it— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2017
This also begs the question: is this the end of Malcolm Butler, too?
Only four cornerbacks are slated to receiver $14 million or more per year: Rams CB Trumaine Johnson, Washington CB Josh Norman, Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson, and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman.
Does Gilmore fall into that category of player? And if Butler is looking for a similar price tag, then does that mean that there won’t be enough money to go around?
It’s a valid concern. If I were Butler, I’d be pretty upset at the Patriots for giving big money to a free agent. Perhaps this signing points to an eventual separation between Butler and the Patriots, even if it takes place after the 2017 season. The Patriots might just be preparing for the future.
And Butler is currently a restricted free agent under the first-round tender. If a team offers to sign Butler away, perhaps the Patriots would now be inclined take their first round pick and walk away? If not, and Butler stays, then the Patriots will have the best secondary in the NFL in 2017.
EDIT: Apparently this must have a been a late-developing offer because ESPN’s Josina Anderson is reporting that Gilmore “didn’t find out about the [Patriots] interest until this [morning].”
I'm told Stephon Gilmore didn't find out about the #Pats interest until this am. Plenty of change for the CB, w/ a new baby on the way too.— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 9, 2017
Maybe the Patriots have some upcoming news up their sleeves that led them to pounce on Gilmore?
Edit: Here is my analysis on why the Patriots are signing Gilmore. Hint: They still have a ton of cap space.
Edit: The contract is expected to be for 5 years, per ESPN.
CB Stephon Gilmore is staying in the AFC East, as he is expected to sign a five-year deal with the Patriots. https://t.co/mtOZthbd1c pic.twitter.com/IYlXG2RWyu— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 9, 2017