Patriots Mailbag: Making Sense Of Secondary After Stephon Gilmore Signing

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OK, so the New England Patriots finally and very unexpectedly made some noise on the first day of free agency this offseason.

Patriots fans got to work or school, probably figured they would wait six or seven hours to hear the first murmur of boring Patriots news and were hit with word their team added a new No. 1 cornerback in Stephon Gilmore.

Some panicked, some rejoiced, and nearly all searched for answers. If they haven’t yet been provided, search no further. The mailbag is here.

@DougKyed there’s not really a chance Cleveland would give up the number 1 pick this year, let alone, next year’s 1st rounder too, right?!
— @JefFullerMyself
Probably not. But it’s worth checking, right?

It is pretty hilarious how the Patriots’ asking price for Garoppolo seems to rise by the day. This has to be where it ends, though. You can’t ask for much more than the No. 1 overall pick and another first-rounder for a quarterback who has one-and-a-half career games as a starter.

I do think the Browns have to at least think about — if even for like, six seconds — giving up No. 1 overall pick plus another selection for Garoppolo, though. Garoppolo, for as little as he’s played, does look like a franchise quarterback. There’s a lot of risk and reward to weigh, but the Browns aren’t getting him unless they give up the house and possibly their first-born child.

Whether Garoppolo winds up in Cleveland depends entirely on just how enamored they are with the Patriots’ backup quarterback.

@DougKyed assume Cleveland does trade Pats #1 for garrapolo, does BB keep it and who does he take (Myles?) or does he start trading down?
— @brownspats
I think he would at least try to trade it down.

It seems like Garrett is pretty clearly the top player in this draft, but if Belichick could get a haul for the pick, I don’t think he would hesitate in pulling the trigger on a trade.

@DougKyed Gillmore? Why? What happens to MB. So much $$$. Reminds me of the Adalius Thomas trade
— @jpp_008
I think this situation was fairly complex. It seems the Patriots wanted a No. 1 cornerback for the long term, and they weren’t making the kind of progress they hoped for in extending Malcolm Butler. So they turned to Plan B, and Plan B (Stephon Gilmore) said yes.

I think it helps, to a degree, that Gilmore is younger, more experienced (twice as many NFL starts), bigger and more athletic than Butler. He has a higher pedigree and has played up the level of his top 10 selection in 2012. Butler was an undrafted free agent who bounced around colleges because of off-field issues. Is that fair to mention now? Probably not. But it has to be a minuscule part of the equation.

It’s entirely fair to compare this signing to Adalius Thomas, if you’re so inclined. That’s the last splash unrestricted free-agent signing in recent memory, and it didn’t go well. Bill Belichick’s a pretty smart guy, though, so I can’t say I see why there’s so much panic over the signing. It’s a lot of money, but the salary cap is pretty high these days.

@DougKyed Do you see our secondary being one of, if not the best in the NFL this season? #mailbag
— @whatisatweetnik
If they keep Malcolm Butler, then definitely. If they don’t, then they’ll still need to add a few pieces.

It seems likely Butler is on his way out one way or another, though. It would be very surprising if the Patriots invest around $26 million in their top two cornerbacks. And if Butler doesn’t get locked up, then he might as well hold out for at least part of the season because he’ll be making a $3.91 million salary while Gilmore is on the other side of the field making $9 million more.

@DougKyed if we end up trading Butler who steps up to be the other CB? Or do we draft one? #MailDoug
— @patricks1591
Eric Rowe would be the other outside cornerback, and Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones, Justin Coleman and either a free-agent signing or draft pick would compete for the slot role.

Whether or not that would be a smart move depends on how good those signings or draft picks are.

@DougKyed #MailDoug do you have a record of Patriots targeting combine warriors? I don’t remember this type of situation happening in 15 yrs
— @ovelevy
Acquiring combine warriors is pretty much par for the course with the Patriots at cornerback and wide receiver, so the fact that Gilmore is an elite athlete comes as no surprise.

Compare Gilmore to Rowe.

@DougKyed PChung + Harmon very different safeties, but odds w/Harm’s deal they play him & DMac as base safeties when Chung’s deal runs out?
— @BryanThiel_88
It’s possible, but they would then have to look for a strong safety-type to pair with Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon. Harmon could play free safety in a base defense with McCourty playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Harmon and McCourty then could play back deep together in sub with another safety coming onto the field to play the strong safety role.

@DougKyed #MailDoug Do you think the Patriots are revamping the offense to de-emphasize TE, lean on receivers more?
— @MrQuindazzi
Based on their continued interest in wide receivers, it appears so. That also depends on how the Patriots view Dwayne Allen and whether they believe he and Rob Gronkwoski can stay healthy. Allen might be viewed more as Gronkowski insurance than as a tight end No. 1b.

We’ll know more based on who else the Patriots add this offseason. If the Patriots trade for Brandin Cooks, then yes, it’s safe to assume they’ll be running a three-receiver offense.

@DougKyed #MailDoug. Hi comes back,Jimmy G to Cleveland for #12 and some other stuff,#12 to NO for Brandon Cooks,Butler signs deal. Pats go 19-0.Yes?
— @MrQuindazzi
Eh, maybe, but I don’t really like the idea of shipping the No. 12 overall pick for Cooks. That’s too steep.

Let’s go rapid fire.

@DougKyed Is it fair to ask Amendola to take another pay cut? He’s contributed very well so far IMO. Also, Branch and Harmon $ good moves?
— @JJGSoldier
It might not be fair, but it would be crazy not to. Amendola has a $7.79 million cap hit in 2017, and the Patriots could free up $6.375 million in cap space by releasing him.

A No. 3 or 4 wide receiver like Amendola isn’t worth nearly $7.79 million despite how well he’s contributed with the team.

And yes. Re-signing Alan Branch and Duron Harmon weren’t high-profile moves, but they were savvy.

@DougKyed Did Cyrus Jones make more money than Malcolm Butler this year?
— @2016GoPatriots
Yes. Isn’t that wild?

@DougKyed #MailDoug SUP
Finally the first
— @ovelevy
Just staring at my phone and Tweetdeck simultaneously like a psychopath, nbd.

@DougKyed u seem like a fruity flavored chapstick type of guy. Tell the world this isn’t true is it?
— @RustyRoyas
I don’t use any form of lip balm because I think it only makes your lips more chapped. I haven’t used chapstick since I was a child, and my lips are never chapped. Stay woke, folks.

@DougKyed Favorite pizza topping(s)? Since there are apparently savages that like pineapple or bananas on their pizza.. #MailDoug
— @StephenPorier
Bacon and meatball.

I do like pineapple and bacon, though. Sue me.

@DougKyed Do you think the patriots will keep garappolo so they don’t get on schefter’s bad side?
— @MisterJohnOT
Ha! No, I don’t think that would be their reasoning for keeping Garoppolo around.

That might literally be the last thing on Bill Belichick’s mind. He might think about Snapchat, Instagram and which social media’s “stories” will eventually reign supreme more than he would think about that.

@DougKyed Star Wars or Star Trek?
— @AntiBaalke
Wars. I’m not a nerd.

@DougKyed last one, would you rather be called “babe” by McDaniels, or “Bubbs” by Edelman?
— @AntiBaalke
I’ve been called “bubs” by Edelman many times, so let’s go with that one.

@DougKyed Fastlane: worst PPV ever or worst PPV ever? #MailDoug
— @patricks1591
It was bad. Not the worst, though.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports Images

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