It's not something that's been seen in Buffalo or many other NFL cities in a long time. To see a first-round draft choice sign his rookie contract before Memorial Day has been a rarity, but Stephon Gilmore is hopefully the first in a long line of top Bills draft picks to do so after he put his name at the bottom of his first NFL deal Thursday.
"It feels good to get it over with and I'm just ready to get back to work now," Gilmore told Buffalobills.com.
For Gilmore it was important to not be a first-round pick whose contract became a distraction.
"I love playing football and that's the main reason I play so I wasn't going to let (the contract) be a distraction," he said. "I wasn't really worried about it. I knew Buffalo was going to come through. Now I can just focus on football and do what I do."
Gilmore becomes the seventh 2012 draft choice to sign with the club after six selections agreed to terms last week. Only second-round pick Cordy Glenn and third-round pick T.J. Graham have yet to sign with Buffalo.
Gilmore, who was a standout performer in the club's rookie minicamp, is expected to compete right away for a starting cornerback job with veterans Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin as well as second-year man Aaron Williams seen as his stiffest competition.
"He did a great job during the weekend," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He is a big, long corner that can run and has a great feel for the game."
The rookie cornerback is eager to get back on the field in a week and a half with the veterans on the roster when OTAs begin.
"I'm looking forward to competing and playing confident like I always do and get to know the vets a little bit more and how they want me to play," he said.
Gilmore started at South Carolina right out of high school as a true freshman despite never playing the cornerback position against live competition before. He would go on to make 40 straight starts in the SEC. He's hoping to make a similar transition to the NFL game.
"If I just keep learning the sky is the limit," he said.