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Stephon Gilmore Skipping Patriots' Mandatory Minicamp Over Contract Dispute

BOSTON (CBS) -- The optional portion of the Patriots' offseason program has concluded. Now, it's time for mandatory minicamp. And now, we'll find out where Stephon Gilmore stands with regard to his place on the 2021 New England Patriots.

The early indication is not great.

The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported that Gilmore is not present for Monday's session, the first of three mandatory practices this week.

Later in the day, the Boston Herald's Karen Guregian reported -- just in case there was any question -- that Gilmore's absence is related to unhappiness with his contract.

With just one season and a severely under-market salary left on his contract, Gilmore stayed away from Foxboro during the optional OTA sessions over the past several weeks. But as of Monday, attendance is mandatory for all players under contract, unless they want to face some hefty fines. Thus, it became the real test to determine where Gilmore believes he stands with the team contractually.

His absence on Monday indicates that he's officially holding out.

Bill Belichick seemingly tried to provide some cover for Gilmore -- or any other player not present on Monday -- by indicating that some "weather" and "travel arrangements" might have disrupted the Patriots' ability to have their full roster present for Monday's minicamp practice.

"Just the travel arrangements over the weekend ... so ... not sure exactly, you know, how all of it worked out. We were close on a couple guys this morning. But, you know, we'll catch up on that after we get done here and see where we're at," Belichick said. "Today's the first day, they just got in here a little while ago. I'm not sure if everybody is here. We didn't take attendance at the meeting. But we'll find out who's here and who isn't soon enough. That includes the players that were here last week and the players that weren't here last week and everything else."

News of Gilmore's absence broke just moments after Belichick concluded his press conference.

Missing out on Monday's minicamp session will cost Gilmore roughly $15,000. If he misses a second session, it would add roughly $30,000 more to his fine. And missing a third would add a fine of more than $45,000, bringing the three-day total to more than $93,000.

Gilmore's overall status is very much in question after the team essentially borrowed $4.5 million from his 2021 salary and gave it to him in 2020, when he was coming off his Defensive Player of the Year season.

That made Gilmore a well-paid cornerback in 2020, but by necessity it also made him a severely underpaid cornerback in 2021, when he's due to make $7 million.

While there may be some questions about a soon-to-be-31-year-old coming off surgery on his quadriceps, there is no question that a veteran of Gilmore's caliber is still underpaid in a world full of Jalen Ramseys (five years, $100 million, $71.2 million guaranteed), Marlon Humphreys (five years, $97.5 million, $67.3 million guaranteed) and Tre'Davious Whites (four years, $69 million, $55.25 million guaranteed).

Gilmore played in 11 games last season, missing three games midseason due to a knee injury and missing the final two games of the season due to the quad injury. He had one interception (down from six in 2019) and defended three passes (down from 20 the year before), forcing a fumble and recording 37 total tackles.

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