The New England Patriots reportedly will hit the ground running in NFL free agency.
Free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore is expected to sign with the Patriots after the free agency period begins Thursday at 4 p.m., per multiple reports. Gilmore’s contract likely will exceed $14 million per year, per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
Gilmore is coming off his best season as a pro, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2016 with the Buffalo Bills. He’s played his entire five-year career to date in Buffalo after the Bills selected him 10th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, and nabbed a career-high five interceptions last season.
The 26-year-old has battled occasional injuries and inconsistency, though, missing five games in 2013 and sitting out the final four games of the 2015 season due to a torn labrum.
Gilmore’s reported addition prompts questions about New England’s current secondary, as starting cornerback Logan Ryan is hitting unrestricted free agency and might not fit into the team’s 2017 plans. The Patriots placed a first-round tender on restricted free agent Malcolm Butler, but other teams still can sign him to an offer sheet if they’re willing to part with a first-round pick.
Signing Gilmore would mark the second year in a row the Patriots have landed a former Buffalo player after the team signed restricted free agent wide receiver Chris Hogan last March.
UPDATE (9:55 a.m. ET): Gilmore’s contract with the Patriots is a five-year deal, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
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