How badly would Stephon Gilmore like to make a statement? How far is he willing to go to show the Patriots that his contract needs tweaking?
It didn't sound like the Patriots were hitting the panic button when the topic of Gilmore's absence came up this week. But if for some reason a new agreement isn't hammered out in the next few weeks, there's still plenty of incentive for Gilmore to show up for work and hope that the Patriots come around to seeing things from his perspective.
Why? A training camp holdout for Gilmore could get costly. Quickly.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA -- signed last year -- the penalties for training camp holdouts are steeper than they were under previous CBAs.
While Gilmore has already incurred a fine of $93,085 for missing all three days of mandatory minicamp, he'll exceed that amount after the first two days of Patriots training camp if he chooses to stay home. The penalty is $50,000 per day for players who willingly miss training camp time.
Additionally, for any preseason games Gilmore may be willing to miss, he'll have to be willing to pay a fine equal to the value of one regular-season game check. For Gilmore, playing on a base salary of $7 million in 2021, that would mean $411,764 dollars out of his bank account for each preseason game missed. If he were to miss all three Patriots exhibition games, he'll be looking at racking up additional fines of over $1.2 million.
What's more is that those penalties can't be forgiven by the Patriots, per the CBA -- something that used to be done routinely for players holding out once new deals were reached. Article 42, Section 1(vi) and 1 (vii) of the CBA reads, "Any such fines shall be mandatory, and shall not be reduced in amount or waived by the Club, in whole or in part, but must be paid by the player or deducted by the Club."
Finally, Gilmore could also lose an accrued season if he doesn't report to camp on time. Accrued seasons are typically more important to young players working toward free agency for the first time in their careers -- a player needs four years of service time before becoming an unrestricted free agent -- but losing an accrued season can impact post-career benefits for veteran players as well.
"Hold-ins," where players report but then opt not to practice in order to avoid injury, would result in the loss of an accrued season as well. The language in the CBA states, "A player shall not receive an Accrued Season for any League Year in which the player is under contract to a Club and in which (i) he failed to report to the Club’s preseason training camp on that player’s mandatory reporting date; or (ii) the player thereafter failed to perform his contract services for the Club for a material period of time, unless he demonstrates to the Impartial Arbitrator extreme personal hardship causing such failure to report or perform, such as severe illness or death in the family."
With the new CBA, NFL owners wanted to make it very difficult for players to withhold services during training camp. And they succeeded. Even for a player like the 31-year-old Gilmore -- who has taken home almost $80 million over the course of his career -- holding out of training camp would mean significant amounts of money lost.
That's why it makes sense that Gilmore tried to make a statement during mandatory minicamp. The fine is manageable. And now there's time for his reps and the Patriots to work toward a solution before camp begins in late July.
That has to be the hope, at least. Because the bill could get pretty unwieldy pretty quickly the more time he misses.