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Why Thursday could be a big day for the Patriots and Stephon Gilmore

Related: Report: Stephon Gilmore situation remains ‘very uncertain’ for the Patriots

NFL: New England Patriots-Training Camp Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots will open their 2021 training camp next week, and as has become custom through the years not all of their players will report at once. Rookies already arrived at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, with the majority of veterans scheduled to check in on July 27, the day before the first practice.

Another group is set to report on Thursday: quarterbacks and players who ended the 2020 season on an injury-related reserve list. Among the latter is one of the biggest names on the roster, whose status will be watched closely throughout the coming days and weeks.

Will Stephon Gilmore report to training camp after holding out of both the voluntary and the mandatory portions of the offseason workout program?

Gilmore and the Patriots are in the middle of a contract dispute, with him looking for either a new deal or a one-year pay raise. The star cornerback is entering the final season of the five-year, $65 million contract he signed in New England back in 2017. While set to hit the Patriots’ books with a team-leading cap number of $16.3 million, his actual maximum cash intake of $7.9 million ranks him only 25th among the NFL’s cornerbacks.

Skipping mandatory minicamp last month was a relatively peaceful sign of progress, but things could escalate if he decides not to report to training camp: the Patriots would be allowed to fine him up to $50,000 per day if the holdout continues. His actions on Thursday could therefore be an indication one way or the other.

Gilmore is eligible to report this early because he ended the 2020 season on injured reserve after partially tearing his quad last December. He therefore also is a candidate to open training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

The former Defensive Player of the Year is one of eight recovering players whose report date can be set as early as Thursday per the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement:

  • DE Tashawn Bower
  • OT Yodny Cajuste
  • DT Carl Davis
  • CB Stephon Gilmore
  • RB Damien Harris
  • LB Brandon King
  • LB Josh Uche
  • OT Isaiah Wynn

Also set to arrive at Gillette Stadium on Thursday are the team’s quarterbacks. While first-round rookie Mac Jones already arrived as part of the rookie class on Tuesday, the other three passers under contract will do the same later today:

  • QB Brian Hoyer
  • QB Cam Newton
  • QB Jarrett Stidham

As can be seen, some high-profile players will check into camp on Thursday to undergo medical examination and conditioning work. However, the spotlight will very much not be on starter-level players such as Cam Newton, Damien Harris or Isaiah Wynn, but on Stephon Gilmore.