Stephon Gilmore is a fan of Malcolm Butler. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)
The Patriots could have one of, if not the best cornerback tandem in football next season with Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler.
Gilmore signed a five-year deal with the Patriots last week at the start of free agency, but things are a bit unclear with Butler.
The 27-year-old is a restricted free agent and since the Patriots placed a first-round tender on him is set to make $3.91 million this season. Butler hasn’t signed the deal, and is reportedly upset about his salary, especially considering the Patriots are paying Gilmore $13 million per season.
There’s a chance a team places an offer sheet on Butler, or the Patriots trade him, so there’s no guarantee he plays with the Patriots next season.
Speaking on a conference call Monday, Gilmore sounded like he hopes to get the chance to be able to play alongside Butler.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with that, but I’m looking forward to it,” Gilmore said. “He’s a great player. He’s made a lot of good plays in the league. So I would love to team up with him and play with him.”
The former Bills corner has always been a fan of Butler’s game, especially his story of being an undrafted free agent to making the game-winning play in Super Bowl XLIX.
“Obviously, he came in the league undrafted, so he came in and grinded his way up to the top,” Gilmore said. “And he’s made a lot of good plays in the league, so you’ve got to respect him as a player. He’s made a lot of great plays on big stages. I definitely respect him as a player.
“Playing in this league, you’ve got to have a strong mentality playing at the corner position, and I think he has that. He has that fight in him. That’s one thing that sticks out from watching him. He always comes back. If you get him, he always puts it behind him and makes plays the next play.”
Gilmore said Chris Hogan and Devin McCourty have already reached out and have welcomed him with “open arms.”
The No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 draft said he’s willing to help the Patriots in any way he can, but would describe himself as mostly a man-to-man cornerback.
“I think a strong part of my game is just being physical at the line of scrimmage and playing a lot of man-to-man coverage,” Gilmore said. “I’m just ready to do whatever the coaches want me to do to make the team better. I’m down for whatever challenge they want me in. I think me just pressing at the line of scrimmage and making plays on the football, that’s my strongest point of my game.”