The New England Patriots and Stephon Gilmore have not yet figured out a solution after the star cornerback held out of mandatory minicamp in an apparent contract dispute. And at this point in time — with the first players already reporting to training camp — the two sides have not made much progress toward modifying his current deal either through an extension or a pay raise.
According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the situation therefore “remains very uncertain” at the moment:
My belief is the Stephon Gilmore situation in New England remains very uncertain. Part of it’s that Gilmore isn’t yet completely out of the woods in coming back from the torn quad he suffered last year. But a bigger part is where he and the team are contractually, with Gilmore’s going into the final year of his deal. My understanding is there’s been no recent progress toward either extending Gilmore, or giving him a raise for 2021, but that could change with people coming back off vacation in the coming days.
At a salary cap number of $16.3 million, Gilmore is the most expensive player on the Patriots’ current roster for the 2021 season. However, that number does not represent actual cash intake: following a restructure last offseason, he will take home “only” $7.9 million this season — the 25th highest such number in the league.
Entering the final season of the five-year, $65 million contract he signed as a free agent in 2017, Gilmore is now looking for some changes. According to NFL Network’s Michael Giardi, the veteran defender and his camp are “open to a multi-year extension but would also be willing to take a one year jump in salary” with him scheduled to enter the open market again next spring (thus getting another opportunity for a new contract).
Of course, it all depends on how the Patriots view the situation and how far Gilmore would be willing to go to force the team’s hand. The club, after all, could fine him up to $50,000 for each training camp day he misses in case he continues his holdout.
There are multiple ways this situation can be resolved, but the best for both sides would either be a multi-year extension to make Gilmore the highest paid cornerback in football over the age of 30 or a simple pay raise this year. Both are possible given the team’s current salary cap structure, although they would have a different impact on the team’s financial situation in 2021: an extension would likely lower his cap number, a raise would have a different effect.
Whatever will happen, Breer believes that the Patriots and Gilmore will be able to find a common ground:
[F]ailing to get something done, and get Gilmore in a good place going into this year, would only undermine all the work Bill Belichick did to overhaul the roster in March and April. Which is where Gilmore’s leverage is. Belichick’s leverage, of course, is in the $50,000 daily fines Gilmore would incur by not showing up for camp. But even if Gilmore shows up, my guess is, absent a contract adjustment, he’d probably take his sweet time with the quad. Bottom line, the best thing for everyone is to address it soon. I think these two sides will.
With Gilmore qualifying as an “injured” player after ending last season on injured reserve due to a partially torn quad, he might be asked to report to training camp on July 22. That day will be the next crucial one on the two sides’ calendars — and one to watch closely from afar.