The New England Patriots are knocking on the door of the start of training camp and one of the bigger questions for the unofficial start to the 2021 season is whether or not star cornerback Stephon Gilmore will be present. The veteran held out of mandatory minicamp earlier this offseason as he continues to look for a contract that better suits the type of contributions he brings to New England's secondary. To this point, however, no such deal has been reached.
According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, there has been no recent progress between Gilmore and the Patriots on an extension or a simple raise for the 2021 season. Breer does throw in the caveat that talks could ramp up in the near future with everyone getting back from their offseason vacations, but it's still noteworthy that those discussions have yet to get rolling in a serious manner.
Gilmore is entering the final year of his contract and thanks to a restructure that moved $5 million up to pay him prior to the 2020 season, the former Defensive Player of the Year is looking at a base salary of just $7 million for this year. From a total cash standpoint, Gilmore's $7.7 million ranks 26th among corners. He even made note of his inferior compensation for the 2021 season on social media while reacting to a CBS Sports HQ post listing the 10 highest-paid defensive backs entering this year -- a list he is not currently on.
Gilmore also said he hopes he and the Patriots "can find some common ground and get [the contract] situated."
Meanwhile, New England can attack this issue in a couple of different ways. Given that they have around $18 million in available cap space, they could simply give Gilmore a raise for this season or do so by the way of performance incentives. The team could also extend Gilmore beyond this season and have him play under a completely new contract that brings his average annual salary to a more respectable number.
While we wait to see which way the team decides to go in that regard, it should be noted that Gilmore "isn't yet completely out of the woods" in coming back from a torn quad that forced him to miss the end of the regular season in 2020, according to Breer. Of course, there's still plenty of time before the start of the season to get that quad back to top form, but the Patriots may want to fully vet the progress of Gilmore recovery before they shell out more money to the 30-year-old corner.