La Canfora adds that the Patriots are still “very interested” in Hightower with other teams monitoring the situation and there’s a “very strong” perception among other teams that Hightower will end up re-signing with New England for $10 million per year.
However, La Canfora doesn’t rule out the possibility that the Jets or another team could give him significantly more than $10 million annually in a long-term deal.
Reports surfaced earlier in the day that the Jets were in the mix for Hightower. Rich Cimini of ESPN confirmed the news and mentioned that if the Jets are able to somehow convince Hightower to leave the Patriots, it would likely result in the team moving on from long-time LB David Harris.
Signing Hightower away from New England is going to take a huge contract, but if they can put a gap between their offer and what he has from the Patriots, there’s at least a chance they could entice him to move on.
The Titans and Dolphins have also come up as teams to watch for Hightower, but recent reports have downplayed their level of interest at this point in time.
Hightower, 26, is a former first-round pick of the Patriots back in 2012. He played out his rookie contract before the Patriots picked up his fifth-year option last year and is now testing the open market as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Hightower is bay far the best available players still available in this year’s free agent market and should be able to secure an impressive contract in the end.
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 50 Available Free Agents list.