By Sam Gordon 3/10/2017
The always popular NFL Free Agency Frenzy has begun with the New England Patriots making an uncharacteristic splash on the first day.
The Patriots signed elite cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a five year deal worth $65 million with $40 million in guaranteed money.
The 27-year old was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the first round in 2012 and immediately became one of the premier shutdown corners in the NFL. While flying under the radar in Buffalo, Gilmore proved to be one of the more reliable defensive backs in the game, with 14 career interceptions and a personal-best five picks last year.
USA Today broke down Gilmore’s second half last year where he faced the likes of Michael Crabtree, Antonio Brown and Terrell Pryor, some the the league’s elite receivers. The paper’s statistical breakdown showed Gilmore “allowed 11 receptions on 22 targets for just 90 yards while intercepting three passes and breaking up another four.”
“I feel like I got better as the season went along, and that’s what you want to do,” Gilmore told the Buffalo News.”You want to keep getting better and better, and keep peaking. … I’ve been in the league five years, started every year, so I’ve done proved myself a lot.”
While highly unusual for the Patriots to throw money at a top caliber free agent, his presence is more than welcome to the Patriot’s secondary, though it could mean changes are on the way.
Fans when the signing was made official were probably asking “what does this mean for the rest of the free agents in the secondary?” Well it was clear as day to the Patriots when the clock struck four on Friday that they would not be able to keep the Super Bowl Champion secondary together.
Late in the night Friday, the Titans agreed to terms with Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan on a three year contract worth $30 million further proving that the Patriots knew that Ryan was not going to return.
Another question that comes to mind is why would they give the elite cornerback money to Gilmore when they’re already in deep in negotiations with their other elite corner Malcolm Butler?
Well according to sources around the league, a possibility is that the Patriots may be looking to trade Butler to finally get Brandin Cooks after tough negotiations with the Saints to purchase the rights to the receiver. Other reports say that Butler could have been “hurt” by the Patriots giving the big money to Gilmore rather than he. But as of right now these are rumors and nothing more.
Pending any changes via trade or free agency, with Malcolm Butler shutting down receivers and Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung as well as Duron Harmon now back and roaming at safety, most agree the addition of Gilmore will give the Patriots the the top secondary in the NFL.