It was just last night that the #Patriots were without Stephon Gilmore due to a foot injury that caused him to miss the last few weeks of the season. Tonight, however, the Patriots will be without Malcolm Butler, who was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a late-round draft pick. There are two questions that need to be answered with this move: first, how will the Patriots respond to losing a top cornerback in a trade? And second, how will the Patriots respond to the loss of a top cornerback in a trade?

The Patriots have a huge problem on their hands. They just lost a game to the Buffalo Bills due from their starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore has been the Patriots best cornerback for the past few years, and without him could be a big problem for the defending champions.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Bills and Patriots are discussing a potential trade that would send Stephon Gilmore from Buffalo to New England in exchange for the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2020 and a third-round pick in 2020.

The New England Patriots, like the Green Bay Packers, had one of their most key players miss the offseason program. Although Stephon Gilmore did not miss training for the same reasons as Aaron Rodgers, the fact that he did not return to work prompted clear questions about his long-term fit in Foxborough.

The Gilmore issue, fortunately for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, has taken an unexpectedly good turn. And, because Thursday was a start in the right way, it’s possible that the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year may stay in New England for a bit longer.

Stephon Gilmore, naturally, is unhappy with his pay for 2021.

As tensions build over Stephon Gilmore’s contract dispute with the Patriots, @Teddyjradio discusses the necessity of both parties reaching an agreement.

Will they be able to reach an agreement before the season begins? pic.twitter.com/ijKBn5jSWt

30 June 2021 NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston)

After almost two decades of usually taking the cheap way in free agency, Belichick defied the odds in 2017. He made a franchise-altering commitment by giving Gilmore a top-of-the-market deal because he needed a genuine No. 1 corner. Although it took him some time to adjust to life in Foxborough, the former Buffalo Bills corner finally settled in and began to exhibit the skills that drew Belichick to sign him to a five-year, $65 million contract.

Gilmore, a major member of the Patriots’ 2018 Super Bowl squad, won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in his third season with the club. While the All-Pro cornerback’s 2020 season was cut short due to a partly torn quad, his career is far from finished. Despite sustaining a serious injury during his age-30 season, Gilmore has made it plain that he wants a raise.

Gilmore, who is set to earn just $7.5 million this season, has a strong argument for a raise. However, after missing the offseason program and raising questions about his future in New England, the renowned defensive back shifted the topic on Thursday.

For Bill Belichick and the Patriots, the Gilmore situation has taken an unexpectedly good turn.

Stephon Gilmore leaves the field after the New England Patriots defeated the Cincinnati Bengals.

Stephon Gilmore leaves the field after the New England Patriots defeated the Cincinnati Bengals. Stephon Gilmore walks off the field after the New England Patriots beat the Cincinnati Bengals in his third season with the club. | Getty Images/Bobby Ellis

Coaches may evaluate the team’s talent level throughout training camp. Of course, when players don’t show up, it’s difficult to get a good sense.

Gilmore seemed to be a possibility to prolong his holdout into training camp after skipping OTAs and minicamp. On Thursday, though, the situation in the star corner took an unexpectedly good turn.

Gilmore, along with seven other Patriots players, reported at Gillette Stadium and were put on the active/physically unable to perform list, according to Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal. As he works his way back to full health, he may come off the list at any moment.

While Gilmore may not be ready to play right away, his presence seems to be a good omen for the Patriots. Perhaps this indicates that he and Belichick have reached an agreement that a deal will be reached in the coming weeks. Perhaps Gilmore recognized he couldn’t afford to sit out now that he’s approaching 30 and coming off a serious injury. In any case, by essentially ending his holdout, the Patriots’ most accomplished defense now seems to be more probable than ever to return to the lineup.

What strategy should Bill Belichick use with his top corner?

To repair a weak squad, Belichick spent an unprecedented amount of money in free agency. Will he be able to persuade Robert Kraft to devote additional financial resources to a crucial business matter?

On the one hand, giving Gilmore a one-year increase makes sense for New England. That would enable him to be compensated like a top-10 player in his position while also allowing him to become a free agency after the 2021 season. More significantly, for a last run at the Lombardi Trophy, the Patriots would have their finest cover corner in the fold.

Is a multi-year contract feasible? While Gilmore may have a few more years in him, the chances of a cornerback playing at a good level into his mid-30s are slim. The notion of extending Gilmore’s tenure for many seasons doesn’t seem rational for a New England club that has to keep getting younger and quicker on defense.

Finally, the wisest course of action for Belichick is to give an underpaid player a one-year increase, allowing both parties the option to change their minds after the 2021 season.

Spotrac provided all salary information.

RELATED: Bill Belichick Must Make Another Difficult Contract Decision That Is Far More Complicated Than The Stephon Gilmore Scandal

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • stephon gilmore
  • bill belichick age
  • bill belichick contract
  • new england patriots coach
  • steven gilmore marshall
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