NY Jets: Hightower Signs With Patriots

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have re-signed their starting middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

Hightower was one of the top free agents on the market, but his unquestioned best fit is within the New England defense that has made him such a star.

This way, the Patriots not only retained Hightower; they did so without the hard feelings that can accompany the use of the franchise tag. His suitors apparently believed that too. He visited NY and Pittsburgh earlier this week before making his decision. Hightower knows he got the deal that the market would bear for him.

Hightower's agency, SportsTrust Advisors, tweeted the agreement Wednesday, and his agent, Pat Dye, Jr confirmed it. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that Hightower's four-year contract is worth $43.5 million, with $19 million in guarantees.

Hightower had 372 tackles and 17 sacks in five seasons with the Patriots.

Almost $11 million per year is no slouch of a deal at all.

It brings back one of the Patriots' biggest free agents, who has helped New England win two Super Bowls in his five National Football League seasons.

Despite what Bouchette says are underwhelming numbers, the point remains that the Patriots brought back a key defender who helped them win two Super Bowls over the past three seasons.

Hightower spent the last week fielding offers and meeting with potential suitors, including the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.

When it mattered most, he came to play. Hightower 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.

Not only did the signing make a whole lot of sense for the Patriots, but it also adorably made his mom dance like this. All of last year's linebackers return for another season and in some cases might be able to take advantage of a second year in the system (Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy).

They also added tight end Dwayne Allen, former AFC East rival cornerback Stephon Gilmore, speedy and dynamic wide receiver Brandin Cooks, nifty and versatile running back Rex Burkhead and defensive end Lawrence Guy.

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