Published: Wed, March 15, 2017
Sports | By Jeannette Edwards

Teams Say Dont'a Hightower Returns to Pats

Teams Say Dont'a Hightower Returns to Pats

New England declined to franchise tag Hightower this offseason, though the Patriots are reportedly still trying to sign him.

Despite scheduling visits with the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, free-agent linebacker Dont'a Hightower is expected to re-sign with the New England Patriots. The team took him out to dinner, made birthday cupcakes and sent Jets merchandise to his mother.

Appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich Monday morning, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora echoed Rapoport's report that the Jets and Titans expect Hightower to return to the Patriots.

A Pro Bowler last season, Hightower was a vital cog in New England's defense, making him one of the coveted players in the free-agent market.

After a quiet start to free agency, the Jets might be on the verge of one of the biggest moves this National Football League off-season.

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The Jets' interest originally wasn't looked at as anything more than a negotiating ploy by Hightower, but that may have been overstated. According to the NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala, "positive vibes" are coming out of the Steelers' camp as they chase Hightower's signature.

While the Jets are stripping their team of veterans as part of their rebuild, a player of Hightower's ability and age (he turned 27 on Sunday) would be around long enough to contribute when the team tried to legitimately compete again. While Dont'a Hightower is scheduled to meet Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and Keith Butler, the one thing fans are closely watching is whether the Pittsburgh Steelers would offer Dont'a Hightower a contract or Dont'a Hightower would leave without signing one.

Hightower played in 13 games or the Patriots last season, recording a total of 65 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

The Patriots have added a new face to their stable of running backs. Whether Dont'a Hightower signs a contract or not remains to be seen. Pittsburgh, though, lost Lawrence Timmons to the Dolphins as a free agent last week.

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