Straight off their fifth Super Bowl win, the New England Patriots entered a busy 2017 offseason. One of the biggest moves the team made was signing unrestricted free agent cornerback to a massive five-year contract worth a total of $65.0 million - the largest deal the Patriots ever gave to an outside player. And also one that was not universally welcomed, particularly after Gilmore's early-season struggles.
26. Stephon Gilmore, Patriots- 5 years, $65 million
Earlier in the year this looked like a lock for top 5 worst deals of the year but Gilmore played better as the year went on. Still the Patriots had to be looking for more than what they have so far when they signed Gilmore to what was clearly the top free agent cornerback contract in 2017.
While it is true that Gilmore started slowly into the season, the 27-year old turned his season around in impressive fashion after its first quarter. Overall, the ex-Buffalo Bill appeared in 16 of New England's 19 games this season as the team's number one cornerback. In that role, he gave up 41 of 83 passes thrown his way for 580 yards and three touchdowns while also registering two interceptions and 13 pass breakups.
After his rocky start, Gilmore played up to the contract the Patriots gave him: He performed like a Pro Bowler over the second half of the season and now gives the team stability with fellow cornerback Malcolm Butler about to leave New England via free agency. Of course, this assessment could look drastically different a few years down the road but as of right now, the Patriots appeared to have made the right call by signing Gilmore to a big deal.
The cornerback is not the only Patriots player to make the list, although the other three players did not start the year with the team: Quarterback Brian Hoyer's two-year, $12 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers is ranked fourth, tight end Martellus Bennett's three-year, $21 million contract with the Green Bay Packers third and wide receiver Kenny Britt's four-year, $32.5 million deal with the Cleveland Browns takes the top spot.