The Buffalo Bills and Stephon Gilmore face a contract negotiation in the coming months, one that very well could end with no agreement and the 2012 first-round pick departing in free agency. During an interview with NFL.com’s Conor Orr in Orlando at Pro Bowl practice, Gilmore spoke about his future:
“I want to be wanted wherever I go.”
While some players openly state they want to return to their current team, the “I want to be wanted” line regarding free agency is neither uncommon nor unreasonable. When asked if he hopes to stay in Buffalo or play elsewhere, Gilmore said:
“No hopes. Whatever happens is going to happen.”
Again, that is sensible. Despite his apparent indifference regarding his future, Gilmore did mention he has been in touch with some of the Bills’ new coaches.
“I talked to (Sean McDermott) on the phone, then I got a call from (new Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier). Those guys called me. It's all up to them.”
The McDermott hire doesn’t provide a fantastic hint as to how hard Buffalo will push to re-sign Gilmore, however. The Carolina Panthers defense did see a dip in production in 2016 with Josh Norman gone. Was that regression solely due to the absence of Norman? Probably not. But McDermott did just witness his secondary take a sizable step back without its veteran superstar.
At 28 years old, Norman signed a five-year, $75 million contract with $36.5 million in full guarantees. At 26, Gilmore has age on his side, but Norman developed in McDermott’s zone-heavy system and earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2015 with Carolina.
The Bills have the option to franchise tag Gilmore, which means he would be paid the average of the top 5 cornerbacks in the NFL. Last year, that number was $13.7 million. Regardless of which team signs him, it’ll be interesting to see if Gilmore can reach or eclipse the $15 million-per-year figure Norman received in April of 2016.