BREAKING : Dont’a Hightower has decided to return to the New England Patriots, agreeing to a four-year, $43.5 million deal, the star linebacker’s agents announced Wednesday. The deal also includes $19 million in guaranteed money, according to Hightower’s agency, Sports Trust Advisors, which announced the news on Twitter.
The Jets have been pretty quiet during the NFL free agency, period but they could make a big time player acquisition on Wednesday. Patriots free agent linebacker Dont’a Hightower is expected to make a decision on where he will sign, according to NFL Network. The Jets, Steelers and Patriots are all in the running for his services. If the financial packages were equal, New England would seem to have the inside track on his services. However, the talk in NFL circles over the last few days is the Jets are offering a much more money.
It is believed the Jets have offered between $12 million-$13 million per year. The Panthers’ Luke Kuechly is the highest-paid line backer, making $12.3 million per year. The Jets entertained Hightower in New Jersey for a visit on Sunday and Monday. Hightower left the Jets on Monday without a deal and went to begin talks with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday.
That fact that Hightower is even visiting clubs seems to indicates that the Patriots have not made a firm offer to him. Moreover, New England did not put the franchise tag on Hightower and let him test free agency. The Patriots have been very aggressive over the past week, signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a deal and making a trade for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Hightower is coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2016 and was responsible for the a critical play in New England’s Super Bowl win over the Falcons when he forced a fumble from Matt Ryan.