Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Patriots offered LB Dont’a Hightower more than $10 million per year as part of an extension before the season much like Jamie Collins, but he turned it down.
According to Jeff Howe, the Patriots are considering using the franchise tag on Hightower this offseason. When asked about the possibility of being tagged, Hightower said: “That’s a lot of money.”
Given that Hightower is just a month or so away from free agency, Howe mentions that he could be looking at a five-year deal worth around $60 million with $30 million guaranteed.
Hightower added that he plans to allow the free agent process to play out and deal with things as they come.
“I’d like to think, but, again, guys can get put out and traded or whatever,” Hightower said, via CSNNE.com. “I’m just trying to go along with the ride right now and enjoy that Super Bowl victory. I’m sure in a couple weeks all that free agency stuff will pick up, and I’ll handle that whenever that comes.”
Last we heard regarding Hightower, Jason Cole of B/R reported that Collins’ new four-year, $50 million contract with the Browns is likely to be the “baseline” for Hightower’s next contract.
With this in mind, Cole said that Collins’ new deal could impact the Patriots’ ability to retain Hightower, who will be among the best available free agents in this year’s free agent market.
According to Cole, New England’s decision to trade Collins to the Browns is a result of them valuing Hightower more, which is why he’s likely to target even more money than Collins got this offseason.
It would cost the Pats $14.129 million fully guaranteed for the 2017 season and would likely be used as the annual salary for his next contract if they use it on him.
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.