As the beginning of training camp looms, the New England Patriots have yet to come to terms with cornerback Stephon Gilmore on a new contract to end his holdout.
That's not nearly as big of a deal as figuring out who will play quarterback for the team, according to one NBC Sports analyst.
Warren Sharp, who specializes in analytics for NBC Sports, told Trenni Kusnierek on Early Edition Thursday that even if the Patriots can't come up with a new deal for the 30-year-old Gilmore, he doesn't believe that will ruin what New England is building in 2021.
"I think it's still going to come down to how quickly Mac [Jones] can get himself ready to get on the field," Sharp said. "And let's say Cam [Newton] does put up and does end up getting a lot better, how well does he weather those first four games and how does he come out the other side of it?"
While acknowledging that Gilmore and J.C. Jackson form one of the best outside cornerback tandems in the NFL, Sharp said he "can't even entertain" the notion that Gilmore is more important than a quarterback for the team's prospects.
Gilmore, who has made three straight Pro Bowls and was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, has one year remaining on a five-year, $65 million deal he signed with the Patriots prior to the 2017 season. He's due a base salary of $7 million, tied for the seventh-highest among corners entering the season.
Gilmore played in 11 games in 2020 -- his fewest since 2013 -- and recorded a single interception.