FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After signing a five-year, $65 million contract with the New England Patriots at the start of free agency in March, cornerback Stephon Gilmore couldn’t have asked for much more at that point.
About the only thing remaining was to obtain his favorite jersey number, 24.
Thankfully for him, new teammate Cyrus Jones was happy to hand it over with no major negotiation. Jones will now wear No. 41.
“I just asked him, ‘Could we do it?’ We just came to the conclusion that we were going to switch. He was [nice] enough to do it, so I was happy for it,” the soft-spoken Gilmore relayed Thursday at Gillette Stadium during a break from Phase 2 of the team’s offseason program. “We talked about it; I already knew him from previous years, and we just made a decision that we were going to make it happen.”
There have been some fun stories in past years about players “paying up” for their preferred jersey number. Specific to the No. 24, veteran safety Adrian Wilson had a shipment of diapers delivered to Kyle Arrington in 2013 when Arrington (whose wife was expecting the couple’s first baby) agreed to switch from 24 to 25.
Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore on why No. 24 has been his favorite over the years. pic.twitter.com/9efETTtyGF— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) May 11, 2017
Gilmore said he and Jones have mutual friends and a natural connection in the Southeastern Conference, as Gilmore played at South Carolina and Jones at Alabama.
“I just always wanted the number. That’s what number a lot of guys I looked to wore, so it’s one number I always loved,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore commented on two of those players with Patriots ties, Ty Law (1995-2004) and Darrelle Revis (2014). In addition, he mentioned cornerback Johnathan Joseph, with whom he was a connection from their hometown of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Another South Carolina native, Sheldon Brown, wore No. 24 as well, while Gilmore also noted Champ Bailey as a favorite of his.
As for his first impressions of the Patriots during the offseason program, Gilmore said, “It’s been fun. The first thing I notice is guys welcomed me, and some great teammates. The secondary welcomed me in. They said if I had any questions to ask him. I’ll hit the ground running and do whatever I can to help the team.”
Gilmore has also attended some Boston Celtics games, which has given him a feel for Boston and the professional sports vibe of the region.
"Just trying to go around and see my surroundings because it's a new city. I didn't have much of this the previous place I was at," he said. "I always go with my teammates, so that's building a relationship with them, talking at the games and going out in the community. It's been good."