ESPN Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is staying in the AFC East, as he is expected to sign a five-year deal with the New England Patriots, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Gilmore, 26, bounced back from a rocky start last season with the Buffalo Bills to become one of the NFL’s best available free agents this spring. After the Bills exercised Gilmore’s $11.082 million fifth-year option in May for the 2016 season, the two sides failed to reach a long-term contract agreement before talks ended last summer. Gilmore made his negotiating position clear during training camp, saying he believed he was among the elite cornerbacks in the league. The Bills chose not to use the franchise tag as the $14.2 million price tag for cornerbacks was prohibitive. The planned signing of Gilmore indicates that free-agent cornerback Logan Ryan will not return to New England.
The New England Patriots have seen a lot of corner Stephon Gilmore over the last five seasons, and they must have been impressed, because the Patriots have signed the former Bills cornerback in free agency. The Patriots have always coveted Gilmore, they think he is a perfect fit for their defensive system, so when Gilmore became available the Patriots pounced. Gilmore, paired with Malcolm Butler, will give the Patriots one of the best starting cornerback tandems in the NFL.
This signing also means that former Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan will be playing elsewhere in 2017, possibly as well as inside linebacker Donta Hightower.
UPDATE: There are rumors swirling that the Patriots are considering a blockbuster trade which would send cornerback Malcolm Butler to the Saints in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.