Now that the business end is out of the way, cornerback Stephon Gilmore can really get to work with the Buffalo Bills.
Gilmore signed a four-year contract with the team Thursday, less than a month after he was the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Gilmore's contract, which is fully guaranteed, will pay him about $12 million. The Bills hold a team option for a fifth year.
"It's good to put it behind us. [It] lets him start working on learning the defense and getting himself acclimated to being in Buffalo," said Gilmore's agent, Jason Chayut. "We have a longstanding relationship with the Bills, our agency [New York City-based Sportstars Inc.] does. We were at it together and got it done."
Much of the consternation over contracts for drafted players was eliminated when the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and players was signed last year. It included a rookie wage scale. That hasn't changed much this year because the league's salary cap remained the same.
Last year's No. 10 pick, quarterback Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars, signed a four-year, $12 million contract.
"It wouldn't have been a distraction to me, but I'm just happy to get it over with," Gilmore told the team's official website. "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."
The Bills now have seven of their nine draft picks signed, with just second-round Cordy Glenn and third-round T.J. Graham still to agree to terms.
"It's great not having a major threat [of a holdout]," coach Chan Gailey said Sunday at the conclusion of the team's rookie minicamp. "I guess there's still a minor threat of a holdout but there's not a major threat of it. And you can sort of depend on things a little bit more than you could've in the past."
The Bills are depending on Gilmore to challenge for a starting role. The team released veteran Drayton Florence after taking the South Carolina product. A two-time all-Southeastern Conference selection with the Gamecocks, Gilmore started all 40 games he played. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder had 181 tackles, 17 passes defensed, eight interceptions and seven sacks in his college career.
During the team's rookie minicamp last weekend, he intercepted three passes, earning Gailey's praise.
"He is a big, long corner that can run and has a great feel for the game," he said.
Up next for Gilmore will be the start of organized team activities, which begin May 29.
"I'm looking forward to getting in there and competing, and playing with confidence like I always do," Gilmore told the website. "Getting to know the vets a little bit more, and how they want me to play, I'm looking forward to it."