Dont’a Hightower Staying With Patriots, Signs Four-Year, $43.5M Deal With Team
Dont’a Hightower is staying in New England.
Dont’a Hightower Signs Four-Year Deal with Patriots
Following a week-long free agency tour during which he visited the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers, the linebacker is returning to the Patriots, signing a four-year contract worth $43.5 million, Hightower’s agent announced Wednesday.
The deal includes $19 million guaranteed, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
Hightower’s agency, SportsTrust Advisors, revealed the news on Twitter Wednesday afternoon:
— SportsTrust Advisors (@_SportsTrust) March 15, 2017
According to NFL Research, the contract for the Patriots’ defensive captain— who turned 27 on Sunday— ranks second only to Carolina’s Luke Kuechly among inside linebackers.
The Jets had reportedly courted Hightower—a Pro Bowler who was drafted by the Patriots as a first-round pick out of Alabama in 2012— with many gifts including cupcakes, happy birthday greetings and merchandise for his mother.
Hightower helped lead New England to their Super Bowl XLIX and LI victories.
The Patriots have also recently added physical cornerback Stephon Gilmore, dynamic wideout Brandin Cooks, tight end Dwayne Allen, versatile running back Rex Burkhead and defensive end Lawrence Guy. Also returning to their roster is All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the playoffs after undergoing back surgery in December.
Hightower earned $7.751 million in 2016, as New England had picked up the fifth-year option of the five-year deal he had signed as a rookie. The linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles, 2.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits.
Hightower’s fourth-quarter strip sack of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI was named by head coach Bill Belichick as a game-changing play in the Patriots’ 25-point second-half comeback.
In Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, Hightower’s big moment came when he tackled Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch at the 1-yard line on the play before cornerback Malcolm Butler’s game-ending interception for the Patriots.
Hightower has played a full NFL season only once in his career due to injuries. He played 67.9 percent of the defensive snaps in the 2016 regular season, 54.2 percent in the 2015 regular season and 76.7 percent in the 2014 regular season.
Butler is set to visit New Orleans on Thursday to discuss possibly signing with the Saints.
In other NFL news, a judge on Wednesday dropped all five charges against 31-year-old former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis stemming from an alleged altercation in his hometown of Pittsburgh last month.
HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Dont’a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Devin McCourty #32 after forcing a fumble from Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)