The Buffalo Bills have talked about holding onto their core of quality, young players this offseason. After re-signing Jerry Hughes in March, the club took another step in that direction confirming they have picked up the fifth-year option on CB Stephon Gilmore Tuesday.
From Rock Hill, SC to Orchard Park by way of South Carolina, these photos capture the career of Bills CB Stephon Gilmore.
The move was anticipated after Bills GM Doug Whaley indicated the team planned to exercise the club option at the NFL owners meetings last month. Buffalo had until May 3rd to exercise the option. The fifth-year option serves as a one-year extension for Gilmore that carries his current contract through the 2016 season. The Bills have every intention of signing the cornerback to a long-term extension.
"Because we've drafted so well (our attention) turns to our own players," said Whaley on the John Murphy Show in the wake of their busy signing period in March. "Marcell Dareus, Cordy Glenn, Nigel Bradham, Stephon Gilmore, they will be our free agency next year."
As a top 10 draft pick in 2012, Gilmore is eligible for his fifth-year option to pay him equal to that of the transition tag at the cornerback position. That would give Gilmore a salary making him one of the top 10 players in the league at cornerback in 2016.
Of course the Bills could always sign Gilmore to a long-term extension prior to the 2016 season, but Whaley stated that a long-term extension for Marcell Dareus, a player whose fifth-year option was exercised at this time last year, is the priority right now.
Among Gilmore's draft classmates who have also had fifth-year options picked up by their respective clubs are Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck, Washington QB Robert Griffin III, Carolina LB Luke Kuechly and Kansas City DT Dontari Poe.
Under the rules of the fifth-year option the salary is not guaranteed like the transition or franchise tag once signed. It's guaranteed for injury only, so the team could still release a player before the 2016 season if they so choose.