At the end of the month the Buffalo Bills will reconvene for training camp, in what will be a crucial time for a team that has playoff aspirations in 2016. There are a plethora of questions facing the team as we get closer to the start of camp at St. John Fisher College.
Through the weeks leading up to camp, 7 ABC will examine the 20 most pressing questions the Bills have for the upcoming season.
Stephon Gilmore is considered to be one of the best players on the team, but has only one year left on his current contract, and his next course of action is also our next question:
6) Will Stephon Gilmore hold out?
Over the past four years, the Buffalo Bills have seen Stephon Gilmore evolved from a young, talented prospect into a great starter week in, and week out. While his interception totals could be higher, Gilmore has proven himself to opposing teams and has limited big plays happening on his watch.
He had even more of a focal point put on him in 2015, as the Bills shifted to Rex Ryan's defensive scheme that notoriously asks its cornerbacks to play on an "island" in one-on-one, man-coverage. Gilmore performed quite well under those terms, as well.
The Bills took notice by issuing him the fifth-year option to keep him under contract for 2016, and Gilmore took notice about his value with the team as well, which brings us to where we are at the present moment:
Gilmore is going to be paid quite well in 2016 -- to the tune of $11.082 million -- but desires a long-term deal. Combine that with the brand new contracts given to Janoris Jenkins (New York Giants) and Josh Norman (Washington), Gilmore is likely hoping to land a fat new deal before the season comes along, in which he puts himself at the risk of an injury.
It's easy to make a case for the cornerback. A 25-year-old player still on the upswing, just entering the prime of his career, and possessing the traits you want from a top cornerback. However, the Bills are in a position of power. Gilmore is signed to a deal for one more year, they're paying him quite well, and they aren't in any rush to get a deal done.
With the risks, though, Gilmore decided to plant a seed of doubt about training camp. When asked to clarify if he'd definitely be there for the start of camp, the cornerback replied with the always ominous "we'll see."
Would he actually have the gall to go through with it and abstain from training camp without a new deal? Once again, he'd be hurting himself. Just take a look at the numbers that he'd be missing out on just to prove a point:
If Gilmore held out all August, would lose ~$750k in daily camp fines & $2.6M in preseason game fines. Essentially chopping $3M off new deal
— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) July 7, 2016
So the Bills' best option, for the time being at least, is to call Gilmore's bluff. It doesn't make financial sense for him to miss all of camp, and he'd be losing quite a bit of money each day even if he just wanted to hold out for the start of it.
Gilmore is a good player, even on the border of being a great one, but he doesn't hold much leverage in this instance. He's signed, and the Bills are likely expecting him to be there -- with or without a new deal.
It's just a matter of the cornerback and his representation coming together to decide what they believe is their best course of action to take, but, all reports and indications are that there won't be a long-term deal at some point in the next couple of weeks.
So, will Gilmore hold out from the start of training camp? My gut says no, but in a league where there is less money guaranteed to the players it employs, anything is possible.
Bills Training Camp 20 #TC20
6) Will Stephon Gilmore hold out?
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