Before free agency got started, the Buffalo Bills completed everything they intended to do in the early stages of the offseason. They were able to get left tackle Cordy Glenn under contract for the 2016 season, and they also re-signed left guard Richie Incognito to a long-term extension.
Check and check.
So, what's next?
Now with the free agent window open, the next order of business for the team is to get cornerback Stephon Gilmore signed to a long-term contract. The Bills likely want to use the remaining $4.5 million in cap space (approximately) on some second or third-tier free agents to add some depth to the roster.
By signing some players, it will take up the necessary cap room needed for their six picks in the 2016 NFL Draft -- which get automatically included into the Top 51 salaries. So, the Bills will need some additional flexibility, and they'll have until late April to get it done with Gilmore to assure themselves of it.
The incentive is there, and now, perhaps we have the parameters of what to expect for a deal with the cornerback.
The New York Giants were one of the teams spending the most in free agency this offseason, and their first big swing came on former Los Angeles Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Without names, here are the two players in key categories for cornerbacks when it comes to a contract negotiation:
Player One: 25 years old, 53 games played, 178 tackles, 50 passes defended, 9 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles
Player Two: 27 years old, 60 games played, 257 tackles, 49 passes defended, 10 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles
You be the judge. Which one of these two deserves the bigger contract?
Just looking at the two, they are quite similar in most every category outside of tackles, where Player One would lessen the gap if he had participated in as many games as Player Two. One could also argue Player One would even pass, or at least tie, Player Two in interceptions with those seven extra games, too.
That, plus Player One being almost exactly two years younger than Player Two would indicate that he would be the one to get the bigger contract.
Ok, so who is who?
The man that just signed a five-year, $62.5 million deal with the New York Giants on Wednesday? Player Two, but more commonly known as, Janoris Jenkins.
While yes, Jenkins has returned three of his interceptions for touchdowns while Gilmore has none, the two players are nearly identical in numbers from a contract negotiating perspective. With Jenkins setting the market like he did, the Bills would probably sign up for that deal in a second.
But, it gets a little more complex than just signing on the dotted line.
Gilmore is already signed up for the 2016 season on the $11.082 million fifth-year option the Bills used on him. It gives the cornerback some leverage because he doesn't need to be in any hurry to sign a long-term extension, especially considering the salary cap and numbers for each position are going up every single year.
The worry in waiting if you're Gilmore? The only two concerns are if he had a dramatic drop in production, or, suffered a major injury, which would in turn bring down his projected value on the open market.
For the Bills to get it done, they'll likely need to make it worth his while. It would mean the Bills have to do two things. First, a lot of money up front in the form of a signing bonus, and guaranteed money over the first couple years of the deal -- which are two big components of the Jenkins contract.
Second, the Bills may need to account for market inflation, and pay him even more over the top than what Jenkins just received from the Giants. If Gilmore duplicates, or even enhances, his performance from the 2015 season into 2016, he will be one of the biggest free agent targets on the market in 2017.
His representation will surely realize the potential deal, and it will likely be a point which brings multiple back-and-forth conversations between the two parties. However, the framework is there.
Both the Bills and Gilmore can look at the Jenkins deal as a starting point, and then come to an agreement which will not only make both sides happy, but provide the Bills some more wiggle room with the 2016 salary cap in the process.