Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis says the language used by head coach Jon Gruden in an email 10 years ago is "disturbing" amid allegations it was racist.

Davis, who at the time was a lead analyst for ESPN, wrote to the Washington Football Team's president in July 2011 where he said NFL Players' Association executive director DeMaurice Smith had "lips the size of michellin tires" according to The Journal.

Gruden claimed he did not recall the email, while NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy labelled the language as "appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL's values".

The Raiders owner called it "disturbing" and said they were reviewing the matter, suggesting possible disciplinary action.

“The content of an email regarding DeMaurice Smith from Jon Gruden when he worked for ESPN 10 years ago is disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for," Davis said in a statement.

"We were first made aware of the email late yesterday by a reporter and are reviewing it along with other materials provided to us today by the NFL.

"We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time."

Gruden claimed that the remark was not intended to be racial, insisting it related to the term "rubber lips" for someone who lies a lot and that he was embarrassed by the situation.

"I'm ashamed I insulted De Smith," Gruden told ESPN. "I never had a racial thought when I used it.

"I'm embarrassed by what's out there. I certainly never meant for it to sound that bad."

Russell Wilson's run of 149 straight starts is set to come to an end due to a hand injury that is expected to rule the Seattle Seahawks quarterback out for at least a month.

The 32-year-old injured his finger on his throwing hand in Thursday's defeat to the Los Angeles Rams and flew to Los Angeles on Friday to see a hand specialist.

Wilson's 10-year run of starts is the sixth longest by any quarterback in NFL history, and the longest of any active quarterback, but he is now facing a spell on the sidelines.

According to reports, the injury will require surgery and Wilson could be out for as long as eight weeks.

Providing an update earlier on Friday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said: "He's getting looked at by an expert.

"I don't know much more than last night. We've just got to wait and see what they assess.

"We'll know a lot more by the end of the day… But there's something going on.

"There's definitely something going on and we've got to figure out what the extent of it is, and what is the next step to deal with it."

Carroll will now turn to Geno Smith, who last started a game in 2017, against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Smith led two scoring drives after replacing Wilson against the Rams and Carroll has full belief in the backup quarterback.

"I thought Geno did a marvellous job last night," Carroll said. "Geno has been practicing with us for all this time waiting for his opportunity if called upon. 

"The patience that he's shown with us to stay with it, and his relationship with Russ and the coaches, he's been impeccable.

"He's a very talented football player. He's got a great arm, he's got great sense, and he knows the system really well. I totally trust that Geno can do this."

Trey Lance will make his first start for the San Francisco 49ers against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Lance would get the start after Jimmy Garoppolo again missed practice on Friday.

Garoppolo suffered a calf contusion during the first offensive series in San Francisco's 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week.

He played the rest of the first half but was replaced by rookie third overall pick Lance for the second half.

Lance completed nine of his 18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 41 yards on seven carries.

San Francisco traded three first-round selections to move up from the 12th pick to the third pick in this year's draft for the right to take Lance and make him their quarterback of the future.

Sunday will provide his first opportunity to prove the 2-2 Niners were right to make that move across the course of a full game.

Inexperienced even at the college level, Lance played only one full season as a starter for North Dakota State in 2019, which saw him account for 42 total touchdowns and zero interceptions, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting him to a one-game exhibition in 2020.

But Lance is undaunted by the challenge of stepping up to start at the highest level this early in his career against an undefeated Cardinals team.

"I feel very prepared. I really do. And I think that's a credit to the coaching staff and the guys around me," Lance told a media conference. 

"Those guys have made me feel very confident this week, and I feel confident in myself, just as I did going into the Seattle game, and just as I did every other week before this."

Lance is unlikely to have one of the 49ers' top offensive weapons available, with tight end George Kittle doubtful with a calf injury. Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell is set to return from a shoulder injury, meaning the running game will be almost exclusively in the hands of three rookies in the form of Lance, Mitchell and third-round pick Trey Sermon.

The Kansas City Chiefs will be out to burst the in-form Buffalo Bills' bubble when they meet in a standout NFL Week 5 showdown.

Buffalo stretched their winning run to three matches with a 40-0 rout of the Houston Texans last Sunday.

Week 4 was also one to remember for the Chiefs and particularly Andy Reid, who became the first coach in NFL history to win 100 games with two teams thanks to a 42-30 defeat of his former employers the Philadelphia Eagles.

As the only team with a perfect record, the Arizona Cardinals will look to make it 5-0 at the expense of the San Francisco 49ers.

Stats Perform previews the pick of the action in the next round of matches and the best of the rest.

 

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Bills are sitting pretty at the top of the AFC East at 3-1, but they have lost five of their past six meetings against the Chiefs.

Buffalo will be on a revenge mission after they were beaten 38-24 by Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game last season, the largest margin of victory for the Chiefs in those five triumphs.

The Bills' thrashing of the Texans was the second time this season they have kept an opponent scoreless, having also done so against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.

Reid's side prop up the AFC West with a 2-2 record, but their 18 touchdowns is more than any in the NFL and Josh Gordon will be hoping to add to that tally if he makes his debut.

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals' dream start to the season continued with a 37-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4, taking them to 4-0 for only the second time since moving to Arizona nine years after they previously won their opening four games.

If recent history is anything to go by, there will not be much in their showdown this weekend, as four of the past five meetings between the two sides have been decided by only three points.

The 2-2 49ers travel to State Farm Stadium having come out on top in four of their previous four meetings, having lost their eight clashes beforehand.

Deebo Samuel caught a 76-yard touchdown pass in San Francisco's 28-21 loss to Seattle Seahawks in Week 4, making him the fourth 49ers wide receiver to have multiple receiving touchdowns of 75-plus yards in a single season – joining Torrey Smith, John Taylor, and Jerry Rice.

Cleveland Browns @ Los Angeles Chargers 

The Browns and the Chargers have made promising starts to the season and both come into the game on the back of wins that took them to 3-1.

Cleveland have not beaten the Chargers on the road since back in 1991, losing five on the spin since then – a run that is tied for their third-longest active road losing streak against an opponent (lost 17 straight in Pittsburgh and six straight at New England).

The past two games mark the first time the Browns have allowed seven points or fewer back-to-back since September 10-17, 1995. They have done so in three straight games only once in franchise history (in 1976).

Nick Chubb (388) and Kareem Hunt (355) are the second pair of running backs in the last 30 years to have 350+ scrimmage yards apiece over their team's first four games of a season. The other was the Chargers' Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler in 2018. 

Elsewhere

Tom Brady broke Drew Brees' NFL passing yards record in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win over his former team the New England Patriots in Week 4 and could inflict more misery on the Dolphins this weekend. The legendary quarterback has thrown 67 touchdowns against Miami the third-most by a player against any opponent in the Super Bowl era (Dan Marino – 72 v. the New York Jets, Brady – 70 v. the Bills). 

The Green Bay Packers head to Cincinnati to do battle with the Bengals, who they beat 27-24 in their last encounter in 2017. That snapped a three-game winning streak by the Bengals in the series. The Packers' last win in Cincinnati came in Week 3 of the 1998 season.

Urban Meyer has come under fire for his night out after the Jacksonville Jaguars suffered a fourth loss from four last week and he really needs a win when the Florida team host the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee are 7-1 versus the Jaguars since 2017.

NFC East leaders the Dallas Cowboys will go in search of a fifth consecutive home win over the New York Giants.

Pete Carroll described Russell Wilson as "one of the great healers of all time" but is not yet sure how long a "badly sprained finger" will keep the Seattle Seahawks' quarterback out of action for.

Wilson damaged the middle finger of his throwing hand during Thursday's damaging 26-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams that left the Seahawks 2-3 in the NFC West.

He managed to return for one series only to be replaced by Geno Smith, who led one touchdown drive before throwing for an interception that ultimately sealed the game for the 4-1 Rams.

Seahawks head coach Carroll said he was unsure if Wilson will need surgery and added: "There is a lot of work to be done in assessing all of that. 

"Russell is one of the great healers of all time and he'll do whatever he can to get back as soon as absolutely possible."

Wilson finished with 11-of-16 passing for 152 yards, a touchdown and an interception from a tipped throw, while Smith was 10-of-17 for 131 yards and also added 23 rushing yards.

Television pictures showed Wilson's finger bent in an unnatural position, while he was examined for several minutes by medical personnel on the Seahawks' bench.

"He wasn't able to hold onto the football the way he needed to, to throw it, because we were going to throw the ball, and we needed to throw it all over the place," Carroll added.

"We didn't know what he would be able to do. He was just unsure. If he could have, he would have."

Smith entered the fray early in the fourth quarter and completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf on the back of a 10-play, 98-yard drive. At that point, Smith was five-for-five and the Seahawks had trimmed the deficit to 16-14.

"Geno did a really, really good job, very much in command," Carroll said. 

"We were able to do all kinds of things with him out there. He handled all the communications beautifully and played really well. 

"We had a chance to win a football game. With all of that, we had a chance to win the football game with the ball in our hands and couple minutes to go."

Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams got back on track, overcoming the Seattle Seahawks 26-17 to open Week 5 of the NFL season on Thursday.

Bouncing back from a loss to the high-flying Arizona Cardinals, the Rams (4-1) spoiled what would have been a miraculous comeback led by Seattle backup quarterback Geno Smith with a late interception. 

It took both offences time to find their rhythm, as Seattle (2-3) entered half-time with a 7-3 lead, but Stafford led touchdown drives on the Rams' first two possessions after the interval. 

Smith came on after Seahawks starter Russell Wilson left the game with a finger injury suffered late in the third quarter and led a 98-yard touchdown drive, hitting DK Metcalf for a 23-yard score for the QB's first touchdown pass since December 3, 2017. 

That score brought the home side within 16-14, but Stafford led the Rams right back down the field and Sony Michel punched it in for a two-yard touchdown run. 

Smith then engineered a drive ending in a field goal to keep the Seahawks in the game, but after a Rams punt his pass for Tyler Lockett was picked off by Nick Scott, setting up a Matt Gay field goal that would seal the win for Los Angeles. 

Stafford finished the game 25-of-37 passing for 365 yards, while Wilson was 11-of-16 for 152 yards and Smith 10-of-17 for 131 yards, with all three QBs recording one touchdown and one interception each. 

Aaron Donald, meanwhile, became the Rams' all-time leader in sacks with number 88.5, eclipsing Leonard Little.

Baltimore Ravens star Lamar Jackson called for all quarterbacks to be protected, insisting he is not seeking any special treatment from referees in the NFL.

Jackson was on the end of some late hits during Baltimore's 23-7 win over the Denver Broncos last week.

Former MVP Jackson was 22-of-37 passing for 316 yards, a touchdown and three sacks on the road in Denver, where the Ravens QB showed no signs of a sore back to snap the Broncos' unbeaten start to the season.

"I just feel we should be protecting all quarterbacks in the league, not just myself," Jackson said Thursday, ahead of the Week 5 clash with the Indianapolis Colts.

"Everyone should be included in that, especially while we're in the pocket – our leg area and stuff like that.

"Football is football. Guys get aggressive sometimes. Stuff happens. Probably don't mean it. I'd like the ref to throw the flag, though, if they catch it."

Against Denver, Jackson had his highest passing yardage total since Week 1 of 2019 (324) – the 2019 Pro Bowler has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 13 consecutive home games.

The Ravens have the chase to break the record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games – Baltimore are currently level on 43 alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-77).

Baltimore have won their last two games against Indianapolis, including a 24-10 road win last season.

The Ravens have never won three straight games against the Colts, the franchise which began in Charm City before moving to Indianapolis in 1984.

Christian McCaffrey appears likely to return to the Carolina Panthers' line-up against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Though McCaffrey was limited in practice for the second consecutive day, the running back said he "definitely" believes he has a chance to play after leaving Carolina's Week 3 win over the Houston Texans with a hamstring injury. 

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said Carolina will likely wait until Sunday to make the final call but McCaffrey is eager to return after missing 13 games last season with multiple injuries. 

"Yeah, definitely," McCaffrey told reporters. "We'll take it to Sunday and see how it goes from there. But I feel really good."

The Panthers rushed for 113 yards in McCaffrey's absence last week, slightly above their season average going in, but suffered their first loss of the season to the Dallas Cowboys. 

If McCaffrey is ruled out for Sunday, the men who replaced him against the Cowboys – Chuba Hubbard, Royce Freeman and Rodney Smith – will be ready to carry the load again. 

But getting McCaffrey back as an all-around weapon for quarterback Sam Darnold would be a significant boost. 

"Any time you have the opportunity to have 22 on the field, that changes a lot of things," said offensive co-ordinator Joe Brady.

The 2019 All-Pro selection kept his remarks about his status brief, but McCaffrey did have some thoughts when asked about being injured in a Thursday night game. 

"It's extremely frustrating," he said. "I don't prefer Thursday night games. You go through a lot in a football game. And you really get two days to recover, and one of those days is a travel day.

"You get two days to recover; you get on a plane, you go to a hotel, you're playing a football game. It's tough, but it is what it is.

"It's part of the game, but obviously frustrating."

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley will miss the Atlanta Falcons' showdown with the New York Jets in London for personal reasons.

The absence of Ridley is a big blow for the Falcons, as he is the team's leading wide receiver with 255 yards this season.

Atlanta are 1-3 ahead of the Week 5 game at Tottenham Stadium on Sunday and their chances of improving that record have taken a hit with Ridley unavailable.

A Falcons statement said: "Due to a personal matter, Calvin Ridley will not travel to the Falcons game in London this weekend. We are in support of Calvin during this time and will respect his privacy on the matter."

Wideout Russell Gage (ankle) and defensive end Marlon Davidson (ankle) are also out of the game against the 1-3 Jets.

Olamide Zaccheaus will be expected to step up with Ridley not making the trip to England.

Ben Roethlisberger said "I need to be better" as the embattled Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback accepted blame for the team's forgettable start to the NFL season.

Roethlisberger has been criticised and his future questioned amid Pittsburgh's 1-3 start to the 2021 campaign following three consecutive defeats.

The 39-year-old two-time Super Bowl champion was just 26-of-40 passing for 232 yards, a touchdown, interception and two sacks with a 78.3 quarterback rating in last week's 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

As Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin continues to field questions on Roethlisberger, the player himself took responsibility for the situation on Wednesday.

"I need to be better," Roethlisberger told reporters ahead of Sunday's clash with the Denver Broncos.

"I need to fight through and figure out how to make better decisions, how to make better throws, how to be a better football player. That's why I just said I'm not going to quit. I'm going to keep doing that.

"I'm not giving up on this season. No one in this building is. It's still early, and there's still a lot of fight left in us."

Roethlisberger's 78.9 passer rating is fifth-worst this season among qualifying quarterbacks, only ahead of Miami Dolphins backup Jacoby Brissett (77.8), Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Trevor Lawrence (66.4), first-year New York Jets QB Zach Wilson (62.8) and Davis Mills (50.4) of the Houston Texans.

His passer rating has decreased from 94.1 in 2020 – the third-largest drop (-15.2) behind Packers star Aaron Rodgers (-20.7) and Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill (-19.6).

Through four games, seven-time Pro Bowler Roethlisberger has 109 completions, 1,033 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions with 10 sacks.

Roethlisberger's completion percentage (64.1) is tied for 21st in the league, while his touchdown percentage (2.4) is the third-worst in the NFL.

"I know that I can play better football," Roethlisberger said. "I believe in myself. I know that no matter what's going on, I'm going to fight my butt off to get a win, and if that's the way I need to lead right now, by showing these guys that I'm going to do everything I can to win a football game, I'll keep doing that."

On Tuesday, Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with a hip issue, and the latter added: "It's pretty sore. If I showed you the picture, you might not be too well to your stomach. It's a little black and blue.

"As a quarterback, there's so much involved in your lower body. People probably think as a quarterback or as a thrower, it's 'how's your arm doing?' Your arm is honestly a small part compared to the whole package. It's your core. It's your lower body.

"I've got to find ways to be better with my lower body. Going back and watching the game, a few times, a lot of throws I missed were missed because my lower body wasn't in sync."

The Green Bay Packers have reportedly secured the signing of linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Smith was released by the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday having featured in every NFL game since he was drafted by the team in 2016.

The former Pro Bowler had been the subject of trade discussions, which came to nothing, but it did not take long to find a new home on the open market, according to NFL Network.

With the Cowboys paying his $7.2million salary for 2021, NFC rivals Green Bay have clinched a cheap deal, reports said.

Smith was a second-round pick in 2016 after torn knee ligaments suffered in his final collegiate appearance for Notre Dame damaged his draft stock.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame during Smith's time there.

Smith is set to come in alongside De'Vondre Campbell, having lined up at inside linebacker for 89 of his 105 snaps this season. Krys Barnes has been lining up to Campbell when fit.

Justin Fields has been promoted to the starting job full-time with the Chicago Bears, Matt Nagy confirmed on Wednesday.

Number 11 overall pick Fields had to wait for his chance initially behind veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who signed a one-year contract in Chicago in March.

Dalton started the first two games of the season, completing 73.5 per cent of his passes for 262 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

But a knee injury then kept the 33-year-old out as Fields came in for his first NFL starts, having had a role from the bench across the first two weeks, scoring a rushing touchdown on his debut against the Los Angeles Rams.

That is the only score Fields has contributed so far, despite consecutive starts against the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions. He has thrown two picks and completed a measly 48.1 per cent of his attempts.

Yet Fields has also hinted at his potential, with his 10.24 air yards per attempt ranking second among QBs with 50 or more throws.

Nagy has seen enough to install the rookie under center, having previously insisted Dalton would return when fit.

"I told you the last couple of weeks we've had some good conversations internally," the Bears head coach said. "It's helped us in the last couple of weeks.

"Continuing that process this week it's led to making the decision to move with Justin as the starter.

"We've been patient with this, we've grown with him, we're proud of Justin. He's been a great team-mate from the very beginning."

The Carolina Panthers have moved quickly to sign four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore in a trade with the New England Patriots, according to widespread reports.

It was said on Wednesday that the Patriots were releasing Gilmore, although that move was not to be made official until 16:00 EST.

And the Panthers swiftly stepped in to secure a bargain trade, sending a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England in return for a star in the secondary, who failed to come to terms on a restructured contract in Foxborough.

Gilmore, who was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, spent four seasons with the Pats before being kept on the sidelines so far this year with a quad injury.

He was eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list in Week 6 and is expected to recover in the coming weeks.

Gilmore brings proven quality to the 3-1 Panthers, having been the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 when he co-led the league in interceptions with six, including two pick sixes.

However, the highlight of his Pats career, having left the Buffalo Bills where he was the 10th overall pick in 2012, was the interception of Jared Goff that clinched New England's 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at the end of the 2018 campaign.

Carolina have had only three total takeaways so far this year, although first-round pick Jaycee Horn is on injured reserve after suffering a broken foot.

Horn, whose place Gilmore will take, has a single interception through three games in his rookie season, having had two in seven games at South Carolina last year.

We're at the point of the season where clear opinions can be formed of NFL teams, whether they be real life or fantasy.

Much can change in the coming weeks but, with four weeks in the books, a divide between the contenders and pretenders is starting to emerge in the NFL, and that will also be the case in fantasy leagues around the globe.

But whether you're looking to maintain a strong start or recover from an underwhelming one, the need to make the right lineup decisions remains. This is no time to get complacent or to get too downhearted and take picking your starters more lightly.

With that in mind, Stats Perform has picked four offensive players and a defense who should be starting in Week 5.

 

Quarterback: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts

Having thrown for over 300 yards and a touchdown against a stout Denver Broncos defense last week, Jackson now gets to come home to face a Colts defense allowing 7.35 yards per pass play.

With the turnover-prone Carson Wentz quarterbacking the Colts' offense, Jackson should find plenty of opportunities to pad his stats. Always a must-start, this is a week to be especially excited about owning Jackson in fantasy.

Running Back: Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

Held to 34 yards on nine carries on his return from injury last week against the Cleveland Browns, Cook gets a much more inviting matchup in Week 5.

Only two teams, the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs, have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the winless Lions. Don't hesitate if Cook is on your roster, slot him into a starting role and back him to return to the endzone.

Wide Receiver: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

There may be some reluctance to start Samuel given the uncertain situation surrounding the 49ers at quarterback and their Week 5 opponent, the unbeaten Cardinals. However, it is not merited.

Samuel leads the NFL in receiving yards with 490, putting him on pace for over 2,000. Maintaining that is unlikely but, averaging 10.5 targets per game, Samuel stands as the clear number one target in the Niners' offense regardless of who is under center.

Each of Trey Lance's touchdowns last week in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo were thrown to Samuel. His target share and the challenge the Niners will likely face in having to keep up with an extremely potent Cardinals offense means any concerns over the quarterback and the matchup should be ignored.

Tight End: Hunter Henry, New England Patriots @ Houston Texans

Henry and Jonnu Smith have yet to deliver on the lucrative contracts they signed with New England in the offseason, but a trip to face the lowly Texans should be just the tonic they need.

Former Los Angeles Charger Henry found the endzone for the first time as a Patriot against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.

Now he gets the chance to face a Texans defense allowing the second-most fantasy points in the league to opposing tight ends. It's time for the Patriots' investment in him to start paying dividends.

Defense: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos

Not much is going right for the 1-3 Steelers, but their defense, while not at its 2020 levels, is still a tough one to crack and is tied fourth with 29 opponent plays for negative yardage.

With Teddy Bridgewater in the concussion protocol, the likelihood is Drew Lock will get the start at quarterback for Denver. Lock was tied for the league lead with 15 interceptions last season and threw his first of this year in relief of Bridgewater last week versus the Ravens. 

Long story short, start the Steelers' defense.

The New England Patriots have released four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore in a stunning move.

ESPN's Adam Schefter on Wednesday reported the release, which was later confirmed by the two-time first-team All-Pro.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Gilmore wrote: "It is with mixed emotions that I announce my goodbye to this great fanbase.

"We enjoyed so much success together and you have been an incredible inspiration for my individual achievements.

"Thank you for supporting this Rock Hill kid and allowing him to achieve his NFL dreams.

"To Mr. Kraft, the coaches, and the organisation thank you for providing me with this platform and allowing me to be a part of this greatness.

"Most of all I want to thank my team-mates who lined up next to me every Sunday with one goal in mind.

"Those moments on and off the field will never be forgotten."

Gilmore was eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list in Week 6, having been kept on the sidelines with a quad injury.

He is expected to recover in the coming weeks but a failure to come to terms on a restructured contract means Gilmore will not be taking the field for New England in 2021.

Having reportedly made unsuccessful attempts to find a trade partner, the Patriots elected to release a player due $7million in base salary in 2021, giving them salary cap flexibility and Gilmore the chance to compete for a second Super Bowl title elsewhere.

Gilmore is expected to receive significant interest on the open market, with both of last year's Super Bowl participants, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, in need of help in the secondary.

Selected 10th overall the 2012 draft by the Buffalo Bills, Gilmore was signed by the Patriots in 2017 and helped them to two Super Bowl appearances. His interception of Jared Goff clinched New England's victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at the end of the 2018 campaign.

He led the NFL in interceptions in 2019 with six but played only 11 games in a 2020 season that ended for him with a torn quad in Week 15.

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