The six-week window between offseason workouts and training camp is the slowest time on the NFL calendar, with players and coaches alike able to take some time off before immersing themselves fully into the preparation for the upcoming season. One consequence of this is that there are few football-related news to be reported.
This, in turn, oftentimes leads to a scramble for stories and Tuesday was a perfect example of this. Welcome to the “Reading into Stephon Gilmore tweets” portion of the offseason.
The New England Patriots’ cornerback took to social media to comment on a since-deleted tweet posted by CBS Sports. The tweet itself listed the top-10 defensive backs in the league based on average annual salary. Gilmore, who is playing on a deal averaging $13 million per year, did not make the cut and replied as follows:
Gilmore’s reply came after he already sat out the team’s mandatory minicamp earlier this month. It is no secret at this point that he is searching for a new contract.
How he and the Patriots got to this point has been mentioned quite a few times before: Gilmore joined the organization via a five-year, $65 million free agency pact in 2017, but through a series of subsequent restructures is entering the 2021 season on a maximum cash intake of only $7.9 million — 25th highest in the league. Heading into the final year of his contract he is now looking for an adjustment, likely through an extension.
He has not received one so far, however, and has also not really publicly commented on the matter.
“That stuff will play out as it will. I just try to take it day by day, and that’s all I can do,” he told the Boston Globe in mid-April.
On Tuesday, he added the tweet above to the discourse — and media outlets jumped on it.
The Boston Herald saw it as a “not so subtle message” to the team. NESN noted that Gilmore “added fuel to the Patriots contract dilemma” with the tweet. NBC Sports felt that Gilmore “expresse[d] frustration” and Patriots Wire said that it “seems an awful lot like a passive jab at the Patriots to pay up.”
In the meantime, Miguel Benzan, better known as @Patscap on Twitter, added the following table to the conversation to properly contextualize the list tweeted and deleted by the CBS account:
Whatever Gilmore’s intentions behind his own tweet were, the fact remains that he and the Patriots have some work to do to resolve the matter. There are four realistic outcomes, with a contract extension arguably the best for both sides.
Until the two sides can agree on one, however, those outside of the conversation will likely be left in the dark. In turn, the limited statements that may or may not become available will continue to be overanalyzed. ‘Tis the season.