The New England Patriots are in an odd situation after the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, star wide receiver, and franchise cornerstone Stephon Gilmore, decided to skip the team’s voluntary offseason workout program. Gilmore, who is in the final year of his contract, is holding out for a new deal that will pay him more than $9 million per year.
The Patriots are known for getting good deals from their stars. In the last few years, they’ve locked up Tom Brady with a record-setting contract, and now they’re reportedly lining up Stephon Gilmore with a mammoth new deal. (He’s a former first-round pick in the NFL Draft, after all.) But several of the team’s other stars are facing the same issue: They’re asking for contracts with bigger guarantees, and the team isn’t ready to offer it.
Stephon Gilmore is paid to stop quarterbacks from passing. However, the money he is expected to make this season with the New England Patriots does not quite match his value on the field. Gilmore’s future at Foxborough remains a mystery, but he’s not the only star defender refusing to return to work due to a contract dispute. Ironically, one of the Patriots’ rivals has to decide what to do with his own disgruntled quarterback.
Stephon Gilmore has every reason to be unhappy with his contract
. Bill Belichick made a splash in the league in the spring of 2017 when he signed Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million contract on the first day of free agency. Although Belichick has appreciated bargains in the past, his decision to offer Gilmore the best deal on the market shows how much he values the 6-foot-1, 202-pound cornerback. Let’s just say the investment benefited the Patriots. Since coming to New England, Gilmore has been named the NFL’s best defensive player, two-time first-team All-Pro and has made it to three consecutive Pro Bowls. His elite coverage skills helped the Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl, and he is consistently one of the best cornerbacks in the game. So it makes sense that Gilmore would refuse to go back to work. After all, his $7 million salary does not reflect his top-10 ranking at his position, so he has every right to be upset about his projected salary. On the other hand, the Patriots did Gilmore a favor by transferring nearly $5 million of his salary for 2021, so he felt pretty compensated last year. But the fact that seven of his teammates are getting more money this season won’t make Gilmore too happy with his current contract.
Gilmore isn’t the only star defender who won’t work
The Patriots aren’t the only team with a star quarterback who wants a raise. One of their AFC East rivals is in a similar situation. According to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN, quarterback Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins failed to show up for the mandatory minicamp meetings on Tuesday. He is officially abstaining because he is seeking a new contract, Wolfe reported. Of course, the Dolphins signed Howard to a five-year, $75.25 million contract in May 2019. But after he missed the team’s voluntary offseason program and didn’t show up on the first day of minicamp, it’s clear the reigning NFL interception leader wants a new contract in which his salary is closer to market value. We love X. We love him. It’s very productive. He’s a team player. He’s a key player on this team. A unique situation, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said. We want to keep him here. Every year there are markets specifically for Byron, and that’s part of the conversation. That’s what makes it unique.
What should the Patriots and Dolphins do with disgruntled defenders?
New England Patriots guard Stephon Gilmore is on the field while Miami Dolphins guard Xavien Howard walks out of the tunnel for the game. | The most important of these is the one that is used for the first time in the history of the United States. Gilmore and Howard want new contracts, but should their respective teams? For the Patriots, it’s a matter of how far Belichick is willing to bend to accommodate his leading defender. If he can convince Gilmore to come back by giving him an extra $4-5 million a season, that would be a rewarding sacrifice. That would put more money in the star cornerback’s pocket and allow him to play freely next spring. Keep Gilmore and New England can remain one of the best teams in the NFL. But if Gilmore wants a few years of guaranteed money, the Patriots should trade him. Not only did he just suffer a serious injury (a partially torn quadriceps), but he turns 31 in September. It makes no sense for the Patriots to commit future financial resources to a player who doesn’t have the right time on his side. So if Gilmore doesn’t want to play, Belichick should sell him for a pick and move on. And the Dolphins? The situation seems to be much more complex. On the one hand, Howard will be the 4th. July 28, which should give him at least a few more years of high-level playing time. He also led the NFL in interceptions (10) and pass defenses (20) last season. These factors are certainly in his favor. On the other hand, the Dolphins gave him a lucrative contract two years ago. Last season, they signed Byron Jones for $82.5 million. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to tear up Howard’s contract so he can catch up to his teammate in average annual salary. Miami should stand firm and not give Howard any more guaranteed money. If he doesn’t want to return, general manager Chris Grier could get a first-round pick for the versatile defender, who won’t turn 30 until 2023. Unfortunately for Belichick, he won’t get even that amount for Gilmore. All contract details are provided by Spotrac. COMPARED TO: The hard truth about the Julio Jones case makes Titans stupid to invest in falling assets
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