NFC Scout on Patriots' Stephon Gilmore: 'Would Take Him over Almost Anyone'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 8, 2021

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 18: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the Denver Broncos  at Gillette Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Stephon Gilmore may have had a down year in 2020 compared to the lofty standards he's set in his career, but he's hardly washed. In fact, he arguably remains one of the game's elite cornerbacks.

"He's still a big-game corner," an NFC scout told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "Would take him over almost anyone."

Fowler, who consulted with "more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players" to help him rank the top cornerbacks in football, had Gilmore at No. 4 behind Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams, Marlon Humphrey of the Baltimore Ravens and Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins. 

"[Gilmore] didn't have a great year, but I don't think he's down and out," a high-ranking NFL official told ESPN. "Still very talented. Long, great ball skills. You forget how fast he is until you see him in person. When he gets on your guys, he can frustrate the hell out of you. Very sneaky player in man and also get his eyes on the quarterback. He sees the quarterback and pivots eyes in and out. I don't think he's improving but he's not falling off, either."

Interestingly enough, both the Nos. 3 and 4 players on that list, Howard and Gilmore, have uncertain futures with their current teams. Both players held out of mandatory minicamps this offseason as they seek reworked contracts

Howard reportedly believes he's outplayed the five-year, $75.25 million extension he signed before the 2019 season. The average annual value of that deal ($15 million) ranks sixth among cornerbacks and is below his teammate Byron Jones ($16.5 million). 

Gilmore is currently on the last year of a five-year, $65 million deal he signed in 2017 with the New England Patriots. The AAV on that deal ($13 million) ranks 12th among corners, leaving Gilmore with a strong case that he's underpaid.

And because the Patriots advanced $4.5 million of his 2021 salary to his 2020 deal, he's currently scheduled to make just $7 million this season, a very low figure for one of the game's elite corners and the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. 

It's unclear just how long the stare-down between the Pats and Gilmore will last, and whether it will result in either a reworked deal or a trade. If the latter becomes a possibility, there will likely be plenty of interest around the league in the four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro selection.