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Donta Hightower re-signs with the New England Patriots

16 March 2017

The deal is reported to be worth $43.5m with $19m guaranteed.

Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets had interest, but he elected to roll with Tom Brady again for the chance to repeat as champions. Then in Super Bowl 51, Hightower made the clutch forced fumble to give Tom Brady and the offense a short field to help cut the deficit down to 8 points.

The Steelers still have a need at linebacker (inside and out) and cornerback.

Dont'a Hightower will be returning to the team that drafted him to defend another championship in 2017.

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The moment the plane carrying Dont'a Hightower went wheels up from Pittsburgh International on Tuesday night, there apparently went with it the Steelers' biggest target to date in free agency.

Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Hightower is also another key part of the Patriots defense who could leave the squad this offseason. Odds are, yes. It was the smart move, too, if Hightower truly wanted to stay with the Patriots. His average salary of $10.875m per season puts Hightower second behind Carolina Panthers star Luke Kuechly among inside linebackers and just ahead of Bobby Wagner and Navarro Bowman. The Jets were said to have made a very strong offer for Hightower, but one that they withdrew when he finished his free agent visit without agreeing to a contract. If the Patriots can fix their relationship with him, there's no reason to believe that this team isn't the favorite to repeat as a Super Bowl champion in 2017.

It harkens back to the Pats' 2007 off-season, when they traded for Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and signed Adalius Thomas and Donte Stallworth. They allowed Hightower to test his value on the free agent market. They pulled out all of the stops to impress him. Initially reports had him working on remaining with the Patriots, but no deal has come yet, so he is taking visits to see what kind of deals are out there. He's played in 67 games over the past five season and has recorded a total of 372 tackles, 17 sacks, and 12 passes defended.

Donta Hightower re-signs with the New England Patriots