It’s that time of year, and rumours are abound. The AFC is getting stronger and every team needs to do what they can to survive. NFL free agency breeds all sorts of chaos, and the latest one is a doozy. Former 10th overall pick Stephon Gilmore is reportedly drawing interest from the team that drafted him. Whether there’s any truth to this is up for debate, but the speculation is fun. During his time as the Bills’ starting CB, Stephon Gilmore went to a Pro Bowl and was a top-tier talent.
His time in Buffalo came to an end when the newest head coach, Sean McDermott, declined the opportunity to pick up Gilmore’s franchise tag. Stephon Gilmore was ready to leave anyway, and picked up a nice five-year, $65M contract to join our hated rivals, the New England Patriots. There, Gilmore got the visibility he’d craved, winning Super Bowl LIII and getting named to two consecutive All-Pro teams.
As much as many bitter Buffalo Bills fans may hate it, Stephon Gilmore was once, arguably, the league’s best cornerback. Though he’s lost a step, we must remember that it was only a few years ago that he beat out Tre’Davious White for Defensive Player of the Year honours. This front office paid $6M to the already-washed up Josh Norman in 2020, and are in dire need of a veteran signing at cornerback. Gilmore could draw a similar cost on a short deal, but with significantly better production on the field. He’s also got the benefit of doing it all on the NFL’s biggest stage.
The best man-coverage corner in the league just two years ago, Gilmore could excel in our zone scheme in 2022. He’s most comfortable on the right side, and once Tre’Davious White returns from his torn ACL, he would comfortably assume his role covering the left side. These two elite talents would serve well in teaching potential draftees from the 2022 class, which is chock-full of high-level cornerback prospects.
We won’t sugar-coat it: Gilmore left Buffalo on bad terms, and stayed there. He publicly announced that he left Buffalo because he’d never be seen there. He also had some choice comments about his former-team-turned-enemies over the years since.
Another issue is his health. Stephon Gilmore hasn’t played a full season since his 2019 DPOY year; He only has three fully-healthy seasons under his belt since being drafted in 2012. Do the Buffalo Bills need another injured cornerback, especially if White doesn’t return until mid-season? The water is a little murky.
Gilmore also isn’t a long-term solution. If Buffalo fails to land a cornerback who can start down the road in this year’s draft, then we’re sitting in the same position next April. We need longevity and affordability on the roster in order to keep our Super Bowl window alive and open for as long as possible. Giving money and snaps to Gilmore won’t solve that, even if it could help us this season.
We still need a veteran CB who can still play at a high level, as the depth chart at the position is pretty bare. For the realistic cost of a one-year deal, Stephon Gilmore is probably the best player available for us. If we have the chance to bring him in and we can make the cap work, pull the trigger.
The Buffalo Bills have one of the NFL’s best offenses, and this top-ranked passing defense needs to be maintained if we intent to take another run at that coveted Super Bowl title. Much like with the Rob Gronkowski rumours a few weeks ago, Buffalonians need to put their hatred of the man aside for the betterment of the team.