ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Patriots reportedly sign away former first-round star from division rival


The New England Patriots don't have a lot to worry about given the fact that they are the reigning Super Bowl champions. However, Bill Belichick and his staff do have some things to sort through before the 2017 season begins, headlined by a number of free agent decisions on the defensive side of the ball.

One of those decisions revolves around free agent cornerback Logan Ryan and, on Thursday, word broke that Ryan's theoretical replacement is already headed to New England in the form of former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

It is important to note that Gilmore's signing does not automatically disqualify New England from re-upping Ryan in the secondary but the reported price tag is pretty steep.

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Gilmore was the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and, during his career in Buffalo, he is largely lived up to that pedigree. In fact, the talented defensive back was selected to the Pro Bowl last season (right on cue as he entered free agency) and this could be an upgrade for the Patriots in going from Ryan to Gilmore.

The Patriots still have another choice to make with regard to lead cornerback (and restricted free agent) Malcolm Butler but the presence of Gilmore would make things much easier for New England moving forward if this deal comes to fruition.