Widely considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, what is the situation with Stephon Gilmore’s contract heading into the 2021 season? How much is Gilmore’s contract worth, what is the impact on the New England Patriots’ salary cap, and what options do the Patriots have with his deal?
Stephon Gilmore’s contract details and bonuses
Gilmore signed a five-year, $65 million contract with the Patriots in March 2017. The contract contained an $18 million signing bonus and $500,000 annually in per-game roster bonuses. Of the $65 million, $31 million was guaranteed at signing, with $40 million in total guarantees.
The Patriots restructured the deal during the 2018 season by converting $4.95 million into a signing bonus. Gilmore’s contract was once again restructured in 2019, with a further $8.5 million converted to a signing bonus.
Gilmore has one year remaining on his contract
The Patriots have yet to sign Gilmore to any form of extension. Therefore, after signing the five-year deal in 2017, 2021 will be the final season of Gilmore’s contract if he and the Patriots do not agree to an extension.
What impact does Gilmore’s deal have on the Patriots’ salary cap?
The impact of Gilmore’s contract on the Patriots’ salary cap is somewhat convoluted. However, the crucial information is that Gilmore is currently set to count for $16.3 million against the cap in 2021.
Of that $16.3 million, just $7 million is in the form of a non-guaranteed base salary. There is then the $3.6 million in prorated signing bonus, $1.2 million from the first restructure, and then $2.8 million from the second one.
Furthermore, the Patriots adjusted Gilmore’s salary in 2021 by giving him an advance in 2020. In total, his salary was reduced by $4.5 million, distributed as a signing bonus androster bonuses for 2020 and 2021. That advance makes up the remaining $1.6 million on Gilmore’s salary cap number.
What options do the Patriots have with Gilmore’s contract?
The Patriots have some options with Gilmore in 2021, including releasing him, trading him, or extending his contract.
A release seems extremely unlikely
If the Patriots were to release Gilmore, he would be free to negotiate elsewhere. However, with the free agent part of the offseason now finished, it is unlikely Gilmore would get a deal that tops the $7 million in salary he is due in 2021.
An extension to Gilmore’s contract also seems somewhat unlikely
If an extension were to occur, you would expect the two sides would have already come to an agreement. For that reason, it seems unlikely we see an extension completed in the near future. Gilmore is likely to want similar money to the top of the current cornerback market at $20 million. With Gilmore entering his age 31 season, it would be surprising to see the Patriots commit that much to Gilmore.
Could the Patriots’ add void years to Gilmore’s deal?
Gilmore’s expected absence from training camp gives the Patriots the time to make a decision. If they think they can challenge in 2021, then they could put a band-aid on the situation. Thus, New England could give Gilmore an extension of sorts without retaining him beyond 2021.
If the Patriots were to give Gilmore a $9 million signing bonus on a new contract that voids after the 2021 season, they could find an ideal middle ground. Gilmore would have a salary of $16 million, placing him at the top of the market in terms of base salary for the position this year. However, the Patriots could use void years to spread the cap number across the next two seasons.
In this example, by using a three-year deal, Gilmore would have an additional cap number of $3 million in 2021. He would then leave behind $6 million in dead money in 2022 after the contract voids.
The Patriots could also trade Gilmore and his contract
If the Patriots are not willing to extend Gilmore, then this seems like the ideal situation. New England could get something in return for moving on from their star corner. Gilmore would then have the opportunity to negotiate a new deal with the team trading for him.
Meanwhile, the new team would get one of the top corners in the NFL over the past five-plus seasons. That would save any franchise looking to acquire Gilmore from getting in a bidding war this time next year when teams would have more cap space.
The risk is that Gilmore had a slightly down season in 2020. That may cause some hesitancy to commit capital to acquire him and sign him to a big contract.
Want more NFL news and analysis?
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay in the loop on all things around the NFL. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Networkfor NFL news and in-depth analysis concerning the 2021 season and beyond.