FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick says he doesn’t expect cornerback Stephon Gilmore to participate in any of the team’s remaining mandatory minicamp workouts this week.
It’s an indication that the former defensive player of the year could possibly be a holdout as the team prepares to open training camp next month.
“I don’t expect him to be here,” Belichick said Tuesday. “And we’ll just focus on the guys that are here.”
Gilmore was absent from the opening day of minicamp Monday. Belichick declined to say whether the absence was excused.
Gilmore also skipped the team’s 10 recent voluntary workouts over the past two months. He is entering the final season of the five-year, $65 million deal signed in 2017. He is set to make a base salary of $7 million in 2021 and is in line to receive an additional $500,000 roster bonus.
Still, that $7.5 million would rank him 25th among NFL cornerbacks for the coming season.
Gilmore has been a standout in New England’s secondary since arriving as a free agent from Buffalo. He has 11 interceptions in his four seasons with the Patriots.
Gilmore, who will turn 31 in September, tied a career low with one interception last season. He appeared in just 11 games after missing time due to a COVID-19 diagnosis and a season-ending quadriceps injury late in the season.
The majority of NFL teams, including the Patriots, will open training camp on July 27.
Veteran safety Devin McCourty said he’s among the players who have been in communication with Gilmore and that “he’s still a part of this team.”
“Obviously, it’s my 12th year in the league. You see things like this happen. It kind of works itself out on its own and you kind of let the player worry about that,” McCourty said. “But as far as us as teammates and our defense with him in it, I’m excited for that just as much as anything. Obviously, his season got cut short last year and he’s going to be working hard to get back to that level and play that he’s been at the last couple of years. I’m excited to see him do that.”
In Gilmore’s absence Tuesday, several other players took turns rotating into his normal spot in the secondary, including free agent pickup Jalen Mills. Mills was active with multiple pass breakups.
McCourty said whenever Gilmore does join the rest of the team, he doesn’t expect him to need much time to catch up on what he’s missed.
“He fits in where he fits in. It doesn’t take much to see where he fits in. I don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel,” McCourty said. “Our defense is kind of is what it is, year in and year out. Obviously, we add some things, we do things different depending on personnel and who’s here. But what Gilly can do and what he brings to the table is still a huge part of the defense. When he gets back, that’ll be what it is and all that will work itself out.”
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