Stephon Gilmore said today this wasn’t a long courtship. The Patriots hadn’t necessarily been wooing him early during the tampering period. They jumped in, and once Gilmore knew of their interest and offer, there wasn’t much left to decide.
“I was surprised a little bit,” Gilmore said during a conference call today. “You never know in free agency what’s going to happen. When I found out the Patriots wanted me, I had a good feeling.”
That good feeling turned into a 5-year, $65 million contract, and the chance to compete for a Super Bowl.
Obviously, the elephant in the room is Malcolm Butler, who is looking to be paid the kind of money Gilmore received. Butler, a restricted free agent, was tendered at $3.9 million. He’s trying to land more. If Butler stays in New England, a Gilmore/Butler tandem at corner would be one of the best in the NFL. Gilmore would love to be paired with with Butler, and has nothing but respect for him.
“Obviously, he came in the league undrafted. So, he came in and ground his way up to the top. He’s made a lot of good plays in the league. You have to respect him as a player,” Gilmore said. “He’s made a lot of great plays on big stages. I definitely respect him as a player. In this league, you have to have a strong mentality playing the corner position. I think he has that fire in him. That’s one thing that sticks out from watching him. He always comes back. If you get him, he always puts it behind him, and makes plays the next play.”
As for what stands out about the 6-foot, 190 pound Gilmore, he’s taller and perhaps more physical at the line. Gilmore talked about what he viewed as his strengths as a player.
“I think the strong part of my game is being physical at the line of scrimmage and playing a lot of man-to-man coverage. I’m just ready to do what the coaches want me to do to make the team better,” said Gilmore. “Whatever challenge they want me to be in. I think me just playing at the line of scrimmage and making plays on the football, I think that’s the strongest point of my game. “
Both former Bills teammate Chris Hogan and defensive captain Devin McCourty have already reached out to Gilmore and welcomed him to New England. It’s been a whirlwind for the cornerback. The day he signed, his wife gave birth to their second child, a girl, Gisele.
“She came in the same day I signed. As soon as I landed. She delivered 45 minutes after I got to the hospital,” said Gilmore. “It was a blessing. It was a good day.”