The New England Patriots are giving star corner and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore a sizable pay bump as they club nears the start of the 2020 regular season. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, New England is bumping Gilmore's salary for this season from $10.5 million to $15.5. The 29-year-old has a chance for that to bump up to $17.5 million for 2020 if he reaches certain incentives.
Gilmore originally signed a five-year, $65 million contract with the Patriots back in 2017 and has proved to be worth every penny to this point. He's been named to the Pro Bowl and given first-team All-Pro honors the past two seasons. Gilmore also was a key figure in New England's most recent championship, picking off Jared Goff in Super Bowl LIII. The 2019 season, however, may be Gilmore's crowning achievement as he was the NFL's co-leader for interceptions (six) and defended 20 passes en-route to being named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Because of Gilmore's standing as arguably the league's best corner, his contract -- that still has two years remaining -- seemed to be due for some sort of restructuring to properly reflect the current market at the position. It also doesn't seem a coincidence that this raise comes off the heel of the Rams making corner Jalen Ramsey the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history, handing him a mint five-year, $105 million deal that gives him an average of $21 million per year. Ramsey was also given $71.2 million at signing. With that in the backdrop, New England needed to bring Gilmore's contract to a more respectable level.
As for how Gilmore can reach the full $17.5 million for 2020, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that Gilmore will need to win Defensive Player of Year yet again to trigger the full $7 million raise. That's not totally out of the question either as Aaron Donald (2017, 2018) and J.J. Watt (2014, 2015) are two recent examples of players winning the award in back-to-back years.