Today marks the first of many milestone dates in the 2017 NFL offseason for the Buffalo Bills and the league’s other 31 teams. Teams can decide to “tag” certain players on their roster with different designations, and the Bills may be deciding whether or not to use the franchise player tag on their fifth-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
The Bills and Gilmore began negotiating last offseason. Reports indicated that the Bills offered Gilmore an average annual contract of $10.5 million per season, but Gilmore and his representatives wanted $14 million. The two sides have not negotiated since training camp closed, per reports.
If the Bills were to tag Gilmore, his salary would become the equivalent of the average contracts of the top-five players at his position. That would guarantee Gilmore $13.7 million for the 2017 season. With Gilmore publicly saying that he “wants to be wanted” regardless of his destination, it stands to reason that the Bills would need to pay him his asking price in order to show that they want him. With needs at multiple other positions (safety, linebacker, right tackle, and wide receiver immediately come to mind), it is possible that the team will move on and use the funds otherwise allocated to Gilmore to strengthen multiple other positions.
Of course, it’s also possible that Gilmore tests the market, doesn’t find a palatable offer, and comes back to Buffalo on a deal that pays him somewhere in the middle of his demands and the team’s offer. As with all other situations of this kind during the offseason, we can only watch and wait.