Stephon Gilmore explains what irked him most in final days with Patriots

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Stephon Gilmore was growing frustrated with the New England Patriots in his final days with the team. It was a dispute over the cornerback’s rehabilitation, with Gilmore recovering from quad surgery that he underwent in 2020 and ended his season.

Gilmore was on the road to return for the Patriots in 2021 after starting the season on the physically unable to perform list. Ultimately, the Patriots parted ways with him for a sixth-round pick, a seemingly meager return for one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks. It sounds like neither party was happy with the other as their relationship came to an end.

“When you return to play, you want to rehab back to return to play,” Gilmore told The Athletic in a recent interview. “But I felt like they were doing more workouts than rehab, more working out like someone (who) was 100 percent healthy and in the offseason program. But I was rehabbing, coming back from surgery. So that’s different. I think you should take steps to come back and play.

“It was just making me do all types of running and lifting way more than I was supposed to. I’m just happy everything — I feel like God puts you in position to be in a better place. They handled it right here, and I’m on the right track. I feel good — better and better every week. And I feel more confident.”

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Gilmore suggested he would be back for training camp despite missing the team’s organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. It appeared he was staging a holdout after displeasure with his contract.

The Patriots placed him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after he missed all of training camp. There were reports that he was staging a hold-in, where he was healthy enough to play but didn’t want to return to the field without a new contract.

“I didn’t show up there over the summer, so I was on the right track. And then I show up there and start on all the unnecessary stuff,” Gilmore told the Athletic. “Like, right before I got traded, I ran like 3,000 yards in three days. Like a real workout. It’s like, why would you do all that right before you trade me? You don’t do that. Let me do it my way. I don’t know if they were trying to test (the leg) and see, I don’t know. I’m not the type of guy that says, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do that.’ I work hard. I do my stuff. I just think that wasn’t right.”

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