Jets battling with Patriots to steal the prize of free agency

The New York Jets have been swept up in the chaos, as they have signed players like tackle Kelvin Beachum and kicker Chandler Catanzaro.

One of those players is Dont'a Hightower.

The New England Patriots are now dealing with CB Malcolm Butler in the headlines, but the team's unanimous top priority should be the retention of LB Dont'a Hightower, who is now visiting with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That has opened the door for a team like the Jets.

No doubt, those positive vibes will be fleeting if Hightower does board a plane bound back to New England without signing a deal with the Steelers. But, that may not have been the case.

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.

If Hightower comes to Florham Park it could mean the departure of another Jets' fixture. 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. In 2015, when they signed running back DeAngelo Williams and previous year tight end Ladarius Green. New England is also interested in re-signing Hightower.

Instead, Hightower was not hit with a franchise tag and to free agency he went. The Jets have less to offer in terms of potential for immediate team success, but money can be the great equalizer in situations like this.

Plus, the Jets would've had to shuffle their linebacking corps if Hightower signed. He would instantly upgrade their linebackers group.

Hightower's interest in the Jets could be genuine. Yes, he would improve the defense, but is he a good fit?

The Jets have been relatively quiet in free agency thus far. He was, however, used extensively on special teams to cover kicks and punts, which surely bumped up his value in the eyes of the Patriots.

  • Loretta Pittman