Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore reportedly received a $5 million raise after winning the NFL defensive player of the year award last season. Nick Wass/Associated Press

Some of the Patriots late-acquired cap space is going to a guy already on their roster.

Stephon Gilmore is getting an almost 50 percent raise taking his base salary from $10.5 to $15.5 with $2 million more available in incentives.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the transaction and tweeted:

“Patriots gave reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore a significant raise for this season today, bumping his salary from $10.5 million to $15.5M with chance to earn up to $17.5M in incentives even as he has two years left on his contract, per league sources.”

Gilmore has one year remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season.

He’s coming off a career season where he was named the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. He’s the only New England Patriots player ever to earn the honor.

Gilmore tied for the NFL lead with a career-high six interceptions in 2019 including two that he returned for touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals and was a key reason the Patriots’ finished as the NFL’s top defense in yards (275.9 ypg.) and points allowed per game (14.1).

He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career and was named a First Team All-Pro by the Associated Press and Pro Football Writer’s Association. Both of those honors marked the second consecutive season that he’d earned them.

He has 10 interceptions in 45 games since signing with the Patriots before the 2017 season after five with the Buffalo Bills.

The 29-year-old South Carolina native, who turns 30 on Sept. 19 who played for the Gamecocks, also had a game-clinching interception to beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Gilmore and the Patriots open the 2020 season against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday at 1 p.m. He was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice with a hamstring injury.

THE PATRIOTS may be even thinner than expected at wide receiver this Sunday.

Gunner Olszewski was ruled out for the season opener with a foot injury, while N’Keal Harry is questionable with a shoulder ailment. If Harry can’t go, Julian Edelman, Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers are the only other wide receivers currently on the 53-man roster.

New England did get a bit of good news though, as Edelman and Stephon Gilmore were removed from the report altogether. Dalton Keene (neck), Cassh Maluia (knee), and Chase Winovich (shoulder) are all questionable.

It’s worth noting that Harry did his media availability as scheduled on Friday afternoon and seemed eager to play in the season opener.

“I’m feeling really good going into Week 1,” Harry said. “Extremely excited to get things going and get out there on game day. I just can’t wait.”

With Olszewski out, the Patriots have an obvious vacancy at punt returner. That could fall to undrafted running back J.J. Taylor or second-round safety Kyle Dugger, who was an electric punt returner at Lenoir-Rhyne.

“People paid money to come watch that kid play,” said Drew Cronic, Dugger’s college coach. “The first thing that comes to my mind: Watch that joker return punts. … There’s a lot of things that pop in my mind, but when I think Kyle Dugger I think, ‘Man, I hope they punt it to him.’”

Edelman is obviously a prolific returner, but it’s Bill Belichick’s preference to stay away from him.

“Julian as a punt returner has done that throughout his career, but that’s something that we haven’t used him as much on as in the past, and I think that’s probably the right thing to do,” Belichick said last week.

The Dolphins are remarkably healthy, listing only safety Clayton Fejedelem (pectoral) as doubtful.

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