Despite a disappointing season, Stephon Gilmore is high in demand heading into the 2017 free agency. His prime suitors at the moment are the Chicago Bears, but Gilmore is still hoping he can work something out with the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills didn’t slap the franchise tag on the 26-year old cornerback, who made his first Pro Bowl last season. It had more to do with being better known than before than actual ability, but according to most metrics, it was a down year for him, ranking around the middle of the table when compared to other players at his position. He played under the fifth-year option last season, making $11 million.
Declining ability, bad year, it doesn’t matter. Gilmore is a starting-calibre corner in the NFL, and probably one of the two or three best corners in this free agency, which means he’s going to get a nice deal out of this, unless he holds off for too long. Rumors suggest he’s looking to make Janoris Jenkins type of money, which might be aiming a bit too high. Jenkins signed a 5-year, $62.5 million deal with the New York Giants last season. It’s hard to see the Bills, Bears or anyone else giving him that kind of contract this spring.
Gilmore appeared in 15 games last season for the Bills, and overall has 68 games (66 starts) since joining the Bills in 2012, a 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft, coming out of South Carolina.
Gilmore is trying to angle his offseason demands based on what Jenkins got from the Giants, but a better indication will probably be Logan Ryan and A.J. Bouye, the two best cornerbacks on the free agency market. This doesn’t mean they’ll get a deal sooner than Gilmore, who might have a clearer view of his current options, but the best players usually get snatched up first, and the deals they sign set the tone for the rest in their respective positions.