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Stephon Gilmore contract: Buffalo Bills cornerback could hold out from camp

The Bills could be without Gilmore once camp starts, but it will cost him a lot of money.

NFL: Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest questions facing the Buffalo Bills as the team heads to training camp on July 30 is whether or not Stephon Gilmore will be there, too. The fifth-year cornerback skipped OTAs, and attended mandatory minicamp only so he “won’t get fined.” He’s looking for a long-term contract that’ll make him one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the league.

But is skipping training camp smart move for Gilmore? I don’t think so. The Bills picked up his fifth-year option, which will pay him $11.082 million in 2016 – a fair chunk of change for a player like Gilmore. The Bills have the leverage and I’d expect them to call Gilmore’s bluff.

If Gilmore does holdout, the Bills could fine him up to $30,000 per day. If he sits out the entire month of August, take a look at the money he’d be losing.

That doesn’t sound like a smart financial move for him.

Gilmore, the No. 10 pick the 2012 draft, has shown steady improvement since entering the league. He’s quietly become of the NFL’s top cornerbacks and in a Rex Ryan defense that relies heavily on its cornerbacks playing man coverage, the Bills need Gilmore. He’s a complete corner, more than capable of shutting down opposing teams’ top receiver and being a force in run game, too.

The Bills just aren’t ready to work out a long-term deal now. That doesn’t mean a deal won’t get done at some point, recent history has shown that the Bills take care of their own. Running back LeSean McCoy, left guard Richie Incognito, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and left tackle Cordy Glenn have all been rewarded with big extensions in just the last two years. Gilmore is next.

However, it would be smart for the Bills to take a look a hard look at second-year corner Ronald Darby. Darby had an excellent first season with the Bills, and if he shows more growth in Year 2 and instills confidence that he can be a shutdown corner, Buffalo should take a hard line approach with Gilmore and not overpay him. As good as he is, Gilmore has yet to play a full 16-game season or reach a Pro Bowl.

If I’m Gilmore, I show up to St. John Fisher at the end of the month prepared to put together a Pro Bowl-caliber season in a contract year.