Could Patriots Sweeten Pot For Stephon Gilmore? NFL Writer Makes Case

Perhaps Gilmore could receive incentives like past contracts of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski

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The New England Patriots and Stephon Gilmore reportedly plan to meet before training camp in hopes of working something out regarding the cornerback’s contract.

Could it be a two- or three-year extension that gives Gilmore the finances he’s looking for? Maybe. But it also could come down to New England asking Gilmore what it would take to get him on the field in 2021. Essentially, it would be an incentive-laden raise. That wouldn’t cost the Patriots as much and it would allow Gilmore to become a free agent after the season.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss noted a few examples of contract incentives the Patriots have done before. Reiss, during his Sunday notes column, acknowledged how the Patriots gave both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski easily-earned incentives in past years in order to make sure they didn’t hold out and would be on the field.

Reiss seems to think it could be similar to how New England handles the Gilmore situation.

“Based on how the team has traditionally handled similar situations in the past, and with the Patriots’ 2022 salary-cap standing in mind, the answer might come down to Gilmore’s expectations,” Reiss wrote. “In 2018, the Patriots added $4.3 million in incentives to tight end Rob Gronkowski’s contract, the second year in a row they did so. They also added $5 million in incentives to quarterback Tom Brady’s contract in 2018, giving him a chance to get closer to the market.

“Precedent can be important for teams in negotiations, and with that in mind, adding easily-earned incentives to Gilmore’s contract would fall most closely in line with the Patriots’ approach of finding common ground.”

Reiss did add if Gilmore was looking for an extension it could come down to a similar situation with Richard Seymour in 2006. That, as Reiss noted, was more of an outlier.

“But if Gilmore is shooting for more, he could point to what the team did with Richard Seymour in 2006,” Reiss wrote. “Seymour had one year remaining on his six-year rookie contract, but after holding his ground in negotiations, landed a four-year, $30 million contract that would have been similar to what he might have received on the open market.”

Gilmore, 30, is entering the final year of his contract. He is owed a modest base salary of $7 million after the Patriots gave the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year a cash advance entering the 2020 season. Gilmore, in addition to his age, also is coming off a torn quad which caused him to miss the final two games of the season.

And while all factors involved make it a unique situation, priority No. 1 should be getting Gilmore back on the field. After all, the Patriots would be undermining everything they did this offseason if they did not have the defense’s best player due to a contract standoff.

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