Stephon Gilmore is under contract for 2021. Beyond that, there's no telling where he'll be.
The cornerback and 2019 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year is entering the final year of his five-year deal with the Patriots, and while he's not quite at the same elite level that saw him win the award two seasons ago, he's still a very good corner. He's also 30-years-old and approaching his 31st birthday in late September, which is, as most know, the wrong side of 30.
It's especially the wrong side for a player headed to free agency who might still carry the value worthy of a relatively lucrative contract, but isn't guaranteed to receive such an offer from his current team. This is where Gilmore might find himself next spring, a future he knows isn't too far away -- and one with which he isn't concerning himself with right now.
"That stuff will play out as it will," he said, via the Boston Globe. "I just try to take it day by day, and that's all I can do."
Stand by for more of the right responses from Gilmore.
"It's out of my control," he said. "I'm just happy to be a Patriot right now, and see how it goes."
Gilmore is a relatively affordable corner, currently in line to account for $16.265 million in cap space in 2021, per Over The Cap. It's over $7 million less than he accounted for in 2020, and even after the Patriots spent lavishly in free agency, he's not a financial concern.
Lined up opposite the younger J.C. Jackson in New England's defense, Gilmore remains the Patriots' top corner and will be expected to play accordingly as he has for the entirety of his time in New England. He just might not be expected back in 2022, especially if a team with deeper pockets comes calling.
For now, again, he's not concerning himself with the unknown. There's no guaranteeing more money elsewhere takes him out of New England. If recent trends stick, he could stay with the Patriots for less money in exchange for a pursuit of a title.
And right now, while a Lombardi is always the goal, the Patriots first must rebound from a disappointing 7-9 campaign. Plenty is left to sort out -- for example, will the offseason spending spree produce more wins? -- before Gilmore reaches a point of contemplating his next step.
Then again, his current situation might also require reexamination. Gilmore isn't in the top 11 annual average salaries for corners in 2021, even if he's certainly considered to be among them in terms of performance.
Ever a master of the right PR move, Gilmore wouldn't bite when talking his existing deal.
"You've got to leave it in their hands," he said. "Of course, I know what type of player I am, what type of person I am. I let everything lay on its own."
Gilmore's play will do the talking, just as it has for most of his career. He can handle the financial side later, no matter where it leads him.