NFL Rumors: Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore is 'not playing for $7 million' in 2021

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Jacob Camenker
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NFL Rumors: An update on Stephon Gilmore's future with the Patriots originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots at least partially answered one of their biggest questions on the offensive side of the ball when they re-signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal on Friday.

But on defense, there is still a major question hanging over their heads. What's going to happen with Stephon Gilmore?

Gilmore, 30, has been one of the NFL's best cornerbacks for the last few seasons and has been the best player on the Patriots defense. However, heading into the 2021 NFL season, Gilmore is set to make just $7 million, well under the rate for a top-tier cornerback.

Recently, NFL Network's Mike Giardi reported that Gilmore won't play at that price-tag in 2021, nor do the Patriots expect him to do that.

He's not playing for $7 million. And they don't expect him to play for $7 million. That's just not how it's going to work for a guy who was, two years ago, the Defensive Player of the Year.

Mike Giardi, NFL Network

That's certainly reasonable. Gilmore is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and those players tend to make $16 million-plus per season. As such, if the Patriots want to keep Gilmore, they'll have to give him some sort of raise as they did last season when they restructured his contract.

That said, keeping him isn't a guarantee. As Giardi reported, Gilmore and the Patriots may split if they can't agree to some sort of restructured contract for 2021 or an extension. They are talking about one though.

"They've had some conversations. I don't know if they're close to getting anything done," Giardi said. "I think if they don't get anything done in that regard and get him paid what he needs to be paid as one of the top players at that position, then you're going to see a situation where they're probably going to butt heads. And that would probably lead to Stephon Gilmore being out of town."

Of course, we're far from that being a reality, and considering that the Patriots are among the NFL teams with the most cap space, they can find a way to rework Gilmore's deal and give him more money. The only question is whether they'll want to do that or offload him to obtain an asset via trade.

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No matter what happens, Gilmore is preparing for the upcoming season and is focusing on making a comeback from a partially torn quad that prematurely ended his '20 campaign. By all accounts, he is making progress in his rehab.

"He is doing great right now. He's down in Miami, he's running, he feels good," Giardi said. "He's going to be ready for the season, doesn't expect to miss any time at all, including if they get into the spring and actually have OTAs."

So, Gilmore will be ready to go in '21. Now it's just a matter of figuring out whether he'll be wearing Patriots colors or those of another team in the fall.