Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Patriots free agent LB Dont’a Hightower had a “positive conversation” with HC Bills Belichick about his future last week and is open to returning to New England.
However, Hightower plans to explore his options in free agency before considering a new deal with the Patriots.
This has been the expectation for some time, especially after the Patriots elected to not use their franchise tag on Hightower last week.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald previously reported that Hightower is targeting $11 million per year in a long-term contract and it’s possible that his asking price could increase as free agency draws closer.
Hightower will likely give the Patriots the opportunity to match any offer he receives on the open market, but he is in line to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of all the available cap space this offseason.
Hightower, 26, is a former first-round pick of the Patriots back in 2012. He’s played out his rookie contract before the Patriots picked up his fifth-year option last year.
In 2016, Hightower appeared in 13 games for the Patriots and recorded 65 tackles, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, two pass defenses and a safety. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 13 linebacker out of 87 qualifying players.
We have him featured in our Top 100 – 2017 Free Agents list.