ORLANDO, Fla. — Cornerback Stephon Gilmore made his first Pro Bowl this season, coincidentally the same year he becomes a free agent. Down here at the Wide World of Sports complex, more than 1,000 miles from Orchard Park, he knows he’s done everything he can to set up his future.
He’s already gotten a call from the Bills‘ new head coach, Sean McDermott.
“I talked to him on the phone, then I got a call from (new Bills defensive coordinator) Leslie Frazier, those guys called me,” Gilmore told me Thursday. “It’s all up to them.
“They seem like they’re going to turn it around out there but, like I said, I don’t know what’s going to happen. They got a decision to make.”
While Gilmore talked up McDermott’s resume, he sounded interested in reaching free agency for the first time in his career and evaluating all options. Gilmore opted to play out the final year of his rookie deal this season after he and the Bills could not reach a contract extension this past April; almost certainly setting the table for a bidding war this March. Alongside Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye, Rams corner Trumaine Johnson and Cowboys corner Morris Claiborne, Gilmore will be among the most sought after defensive backs on the market in a climate rich with buyers.
“No hopes,” Gilmore said, when asked where he wants to go. “Whatever happens is going to happen. But I want to be wanted wherever I go.
“I put it in God’s hands. If it’s somewhere else, it is what it is.”
With a playoff-caliber defensive line coming back in Buffalo, securing a top-tier cornerback opposite Ronald Darby would certainly help lift McDermott and Frazier’s defense. Bills general manager Doug Whaley, after watching the team bottom out under Rex Ryan, cannot afford another middling performance from that group of star players.
Maybe Gilmore isn’t long for Buffalo, but his services aren’t easy to find. And they don’t come cheap.
“I know the other guys (cornerbacks on the market),” Gilmore said. “But I did it for five years at a high level. I like myself.”