Buffalo Bills: Will Stephon Gilmore be Back Next Season?

Dec 11, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

With the end of another disappointing season for the Buffalo Bills, one of the questions now becomes whether or not Stephon Gilmore will return in 2017?

It seems reasonable to call 2016 extremely frustrating for Stephon Gilmore, who entered the year with hopes of negotiating a long-term deal. However, while other teammates secured their future in Buffalo, Gilmore was unable to come to an agreement with the Buffalo Bills‘ front office.

The issue came down to how much the 26-year old thought he was worth, comparing himself to Josh Norman. However, while he wanted a similar amount of $15 million per season, the Bills were reportedly only prepared to go as high as $13 million.

At one point, it was possible Gilmore would hold out during training camp, due to his displeasure with how the situation dragged on. In the end though, he had little choice but to report for training camp, and go on to play the final year of his rookie deal, worth $11 million.

No one was denying the cornerback was one of the better players at his position in the NFL, but he wasn’t as good as he thought he was – at least not yet. He still had something to prove, if he was to be rewarded with the Norman-type money he was looking for. (And in truth, Norman wasn’t worth what the Washington Redskins offered him.)

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In that respect, you could argue Gilmore still hasn’t proved he is worth $15 million per year, after an up-and-down 2017 campaign. Yes, he led the Bills with a career-high five interceptions and certainly had his moments, but was still far too inconsistent to be considered one of the very best corners in the game.

In addition, the Rock Hill, South Carolina native didn’t exactly endear himself to the fans. Responding to critics earlier this season about his inconsistent play, he sounded an awful lot like Richard Sherman.

Gilmore said: “I’ve had it worse. Playing corner, everybody wants to play from the stands and from the internet and don’t know nothing about football.”

While there is some truth to what the 2012 10th overall draft pick said, it doesn’t change the fact his play was up and down this season. Heck, even Rex Ryan acknowledged this, and he knows a little something about defense. (Well, at least we think he does, considering what he did to the Bills’ D during his two seasons in charge.)

All of this leads to the question of what the future hold for Gilmore? Unsurprisingly, he sounds as uncertain as anyone, as he told Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News, while clearing out his locker on Monday.

Gilmore said: “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m prepared for whatever, you know what I’m saying? They’ve got a job to do. We’ll see what happens.”

The two-time First Team All-SEC selection was asked if he wanted to return to Buffalo next season: “I would like to, but you know, that ain’t my decision to make.”

If Gilmore does return to Western New York for the 2017 campaign, he will likely be playing under his fifth different defensive coordinator, which obviously does not promote stability: “It’s frustrating, because everybody teach different things.

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“You’ve just got to find a way to be successful in whatever system they have. It’s hard. Some guys play in a system for a long time, and that’s how end up making more plays, but you’ve got to learn how to adapt.”

It’s possible the Bills could use the franchise tag to retain the services of the former four-star recruit, but he’d prefer they didn’t: “I don’t think anybody really wants the tag. I wouldn’t want it, but it is what it is if it happens.”

Overall, you imagine that somebody is going to make an offer similar to the deal Norman signed last year. And if that happens — franchise tag pending — Gilmore firmly believes he’s done enough to earn it: “I feel like I got better as the season went along, and that’s what you want to do.

“You want to keep getting better and better, and keep peaking. … I’ve been in the league five years, started every year, so I’ve done proved myself a lot.”

Next: Tyrod Taylor deserves more time to prove himself

What’s your take on the situation surrounding Gilmore? Do you think he will return to Buffalo in 2017? Further, do you even want to see him back in Bills’ jersey? Share your thoughts in the comments section.