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Stephon Gilmore free agent contract expected to be big

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With an expected weak crop of cornerbacks available, Gilmore should receive the highest payday of them all.

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Everybody adores a franchise quarterback, or a game-changing wide receiver, and there’s definitely no shortage of love for a sack-master defensive end. But what about a bonafide shutdown corner?

The New York JetsDarrelle Revis has been referred to as one for quite awhile (although, his days as such appear to have come to an end), the Seattle SeahawksRichard Sherman has also been labelled as one as well, but could Stephon Gilmore of the Buffalo Bills be next in line for this moniker?

Perhaps, is probably the best answer currently to the aforementioned question. Gilmore definitely fits the description from a size perspective, standing at lengthy 6-foot-1 inches tall. He has the physicality element of his game that’s needed. And he’s shown glimpses throughout his career of the type of talent that’s required to garner such praises. The problem is though, that he hasn’t shown the latter on a consistent basis.

While his up-and-down play is a problem for the teams wanting to sign the potential unrestricted free agent — including the Bills who can franchise tag him ahead of free agency — all signs point to this not hampering the 26-year-old’s worth on the free-agent market. In fact, Pro Football Focus has named Gilmore as the best cornerback potentially available on the open market, as well as a likely candidate to be overpaid this offseason.

What will save Gilmore and have clubs looking past his flaws, is the myriad of unattractive options other than the 2016 Pro Bowler. Here’s PFF’s Top 10 cornerbacks that are expected to be available in free agency, along with the grade they were assigned by PFF based on their performance during the 2016 season:

  1. Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo Bills (73.2)
  2. A.J. Bouye, Houston Texans (90.9)
  3. Trumaine Johnson, Los Angeles Rams (81.0)
  4. Logan Ryan, New England Patriots (83.5)
  5. Morris Claiborne, Dallas Cowboys (84.7)
  6. Prince Amukamara, Jacksonville Jaguars (76.6)
  7. Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals (74.7)
  8. Captain Munnerlyn, Minnesota Vikings (75.5)
  9. Terence Newman, Minnesota Vikings (86.4)
  10. Sterling Moore, New Orleans Saints (72.3)

While Gilmore had the second lowest grade of these players, according to PFF, only Newman, who will be 39-years-old should he play in 2017, has played in a Pro Bowl besides Gilmore. Drafted tenth overall by the Bills in the 2012 Draft, Gilmore is by far one of the more recognizable names listed here. And unlike his peers, the veteran of five NFL seasons is unquestionably the No. 1 cornerback on his respective team.

Again, there is a very real chance that the Bills can thwart Gilmore’s expected big payday by applying the franchise tag to him which would pay him about $14 million, but that’s not likely to happen given the performance concerns surrounding his tenure in Buffalo. It’s also not likely that the two parties will agree on a long-term deal, either, before free agency begins or during it, as Gilmore’s appeals for a new deal during training camp last year went unheard.

But still, whether he remains in Western New York, or goes somewhere else, expect Gilmore to receive shutdown corner money, even if he isn’t necessarily one currently.