New England Patriots preseason got underway Thursday night, but Stephon Gilmore was one of a number of players to sit out the exhibition against the Washington Football Team.
Gilmore and the Patriots have yet to come to terms on a restructured contract. The All-Pro cornerback didn't participate in OTAs or mandatory minicamp due to the contract dispute and was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list prior to training camp.
Ahead of Thursday's preseason action, The MMQB's Albert Breer explained why Gilmore might have the leverage in contract negotiations with the regular season right around the corner.
"I could see him sitting out all of camp and maybe going into the season without a lot of practice action or any game action at all," Breer said on NBC Sports Boston. "It'd be surprising at this point if he played in any of the preseason games, and that's to the detriment of the Patriots. That's sort of Steph's leverage here is you spent all that money in free agency, a record amount of guaranteed money, and yet your best player isn't out there for camp, he isn't out there for team building during preseason games."
The Patriots spent $159.6 million worth of guaranteed money in free agency. Gilmore is set to make approximately $7 million in 2021, which is due to the Patriots advancing him $4.5 million last season.
Breer believes that high offseason spending shows the Patriots are in "win now" mode. The best way to do that, of course, is by having Gilmore ready to go for Week 1.
"I think that's a piece of Stephon Gilmore's leverage here is if you're spending that much money in free agency, you're not waiting to win for two or three years. You want to win right now," he added. "What would undermine that is you don't have your best player in a position to perform at his best. And so, every day that passes they're putting Steph Gilmore in less of a position to be at his best and oh, by the way, if if they don't take care of him monetarily, you've got to worry about his mindset going into the season as well.
"I just think when you go through these sorts of negotiations with players, especially when they're great players, especially when they're guys as respected as Steph is in the locker room, you can kind of play fire with an entire position group. So, something worth monitoring of course and, look, if you don't have Steph at your best, I think corner goes from a position of strength to one you have some serious questions at."
Gilmore, 30, suffered a partially torn quad in Week 15 of last season. He notched one interception, three passes defensed and a forced fumble in 11 games.
Hear everything Breer had to say in the video above.